This is one of the most unusual crime thrillers I’ve read for a long time. The premise grabs your full attention from the very start. Cal Hooper is a recently-retired US city cop. He’s bone-weary of crime, criminals, violence, and the endless struggle to keep the peace and uphold the law, let alone deliver justice. (He’s had his own personal brush with injustice, too – a bruising divorce that’s left him emotionally shattered).
So, he quits Chicago and crosses the Atlantic to settle in rural Ireland. He thinks he’ll love it there. A pretty village; a decent pub; quirky, personable, law-abiding locals. What could possibly go wrong?
This is a superbly-written story. Tana French’s description of rural Ireland are lyrical, hugely engaging and sometimes very funny. Cal’s cottage has its own rookery and the highly intelligent birds form a sort of Greek chorus to Cal’s new life, swearing at him, mocking him, stealing from him.
But the central plotline concerns Trey, a troubled young boy whose beloved older brother has vanished. Local police aren’t interested in the case, so Trey turns to Cal for help. Cal’s retired. He doesn’t want to know. But gradually Trey tugs at the old cop’s conscience – and heartstrings – and he begins to realise that even in his new, green idyll, dark secrets lie just beneath the surface and dreadful deeds have been committed. He realises he can’t walk away. And neither can we – you’ll be turning Tana’s pages long into the night.