The Hunter

The Hunter| Tana French

I’m a big fan of Tana French. She’s an excellent writer — not ‘just’ an excellent mystery writer. This series, with Cal Hooper – ex-detective from Chicago now living in rural Ireland – is very good indeed.

The main duo at the centre of the story are Cal and his protégée Trey; a wild young teenage girl that he’s trying to keep on an even keel despite her difficult home environment. Despite her youth, she’s a vivid and memorable character with a lot of depth, portrayed in a way that’s neither condescending nor reductive.

Like all the best mystery or crime novels, French’s books are social novels as much as crime stories. It’s not about the plot twists and gory details, but about people and society. A running theme in her novels is the contrast between perceptions of ‘traditional’ Ireland with the realities of Irish society today. Here, for example, she presents stereotypical ‘countryfolk’ but brings you up short, for example, in scenes where crusty old farmers, in mid-conversation about rural matters, suddenly mention internet porn or smartphones.

Trey’s father Johnny, a waster who everyone was glad to see the back of when he abandoned his family, is back. And he’s part of a scheme to scam local farmers — who, however, are a lot cannier than he gives them credit for, and a lot smarter than he is. Again, we are presented with a contrast: a rather pathetic and weak ‘small’ man, but whose damaging impact on his family is profound.

French is keenly observant of life in Ireland. She bring an outsider’s objective appraisal that (to me, a long-time emigrant from Ireland, so you could argue, What do I know about it?) sheds light on the country in a way that native writers don’t quite achieve.

The Hunter has an intriguing plot and convincing (often very funny) dialogue, on a foundation of solid characterisation and insightful social commentary.

I’ve loved French’s books from the start, and they never disappoint. Highly recommended.

My thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the ARC – I was thrilled to receive and read it. My reviews are always 100% unbiased, regardless of how I acquire the book.

You might also like: The Searcher | Tana French

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