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The Hunter: Book summary and reviews of The Hunter by Tana French

The Hunter

A Novel

by Tana French

The Hunter by Tana French X
The Hunter by Tana French
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  • Published Mar 2024
    480 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Searcher and "one of the greatest crime novelists writing today" (Vox), a spellbinding new novel set in the Irish countryside

It's a blazing summer when two men arrive in a small village in the West of Ireland. One of them is coming home. Both of them are coming to get rich. One of them is coming to die.

Cal Hooper took early retirement from Chicago PD and moved to rural Ireland looking for peace. He's found it, more or less: he's built a relationship with a local woman, Lena, and he's gradually turning Trey Reddy from a half-feral teenager into a good kid going good places. But then Trey's long-absent father reappears, bringing along an English millionaire and a scheme to find gold in the townland, and suddenly everything the three of them have been building is under threat. Cal and Lena are both ready to do whatever it takes to protect Trey, but Trey doesn't want protecting. What she wants is revenge.

From the writer who is "in a class by herself," (The New York Times), a nuanced, atmospheric tale that explores what we'll do for our loved ones, what we'll do for revenge, and what we sacrifice when the two collide.

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Media Reviews

"The plot is a bit of a stretch, but the characters and their relationships work well...An absorbing crime yarn." —Kirkus Reviews

"While this isn't quite up to French's best—the gears of the plot take too long to start turning—it's a pleasure to spend time with her finely drawn characters, and the murder investigation, when it finally gets underway, has impressive scope. This may be a step down from its predecessor, but it's still a cut above similar fare." —Publishers Weekly

"Hailed as the queen of Irish crime fiction, French spins a taut tale of retribution, sacrifice, and family." —TIME

"Tana French has become her own reliable industry of top-shelf crime thrillers." —The Washington Post

"Tana French is… like a poet. She writes beautifully…If you haven't read her yet, I really highly recommend that you do." —Harlan Coben

This information about The Hunter was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own reviewwrite your own review

Cloggie Downunder

Brilliant Irish crime fiction
After some two years fixing up his dilapidated house near Ardnakelty in the west of Ireland, ex-Chicago cop, Cal Hooper is settling in, happy with the contrast to city life: “being boring is among Cal’s main goals. For most of his life, one or more elements always insisted on being interesting, to the point where dullness took on an unattainable end-of-the-rainbow glow. Ever since he finally got his hands on it, he’s savoured every second.”

His renovation is coming along, the villagers seem to tolerate him, Lena Dunne regularly shares his bed, and Trey, now fifteen, is building her furniture-restoring skills under his watch. His discreet, low-key care has a positive effect on her academic performance and her social acuity. For Trey, Cal’s place has peace, while at home “Their mam is silent, but it’s not a silence with peace in it. It takes up space, like some heavy thing made of rusted iron built around her”

Then her four-year-absent father, Johnny Reddy turns up. Cal sizes him up: “a type he’s encountered before: the guy who operates by sauntering into a new place, announcing himself as whatever seems likely to come in handy, and seeing how much he can get out of that costume before it wears too thin to cover him up any longer.”

Johnny invites a select few farmers to hear about a scheme guaranteed to put money in their pockets: a wealthy Londoner they are soon referring to as a Plastic Paddy, who claims a connection to the village, has a tale from his granny of gold in the ground. The Reddy family’s poor reputation ensures that many start out sceptical, but meeting the very posh Cillian Rushborough convinces them they can pull it off.

The likelihood of actual gold being low, Cal is quickly convinced there’s more to it all than what Reddy is saying: just who is scamming whom?

“The main talent Cal has discovered in himself, since coming to Ardnakelty, is a broad and restful capacity for letting things be. At first this sat uneasily alongside his ingrained instinct to fix things, but over time they’ve fallen into a balance: he keeps the fixing instinct mainly turned towards solid objects, like his house and people’s furniture, and leaves other things the room to fix themselves.”

Against his usual instincts, Cal gets involved, if just to keep an eye on where things are going, to make sure there’s no backlash on Trey when things go pear-shaped, as they inevitably will.

Each processing events in their own way, Trey and Cal and Lena aren’t sharing all they know, out of misguided concern or uncertainty, each trying to protect or not worry the other. Each acts according to their own agenda, sometimes at crossed purposes. Trey sees the opportunity for a kind of justice she’s longed for to be served. And then, one of the new arrivals is murdered…

Once again, French provides a slow burn tale in which readers can immerse themselves in gorgeous descriptive prose such as: “the fields sprawl out, a mosaic of varying greens in oddangled shapes that Trey knows as well as the cracks on her bedroom ceiling” and “Summer air wanders in and out of the window, bringing the smells of silage and clover, picking up sawdust motes and twirling them idly in the wide bars of sunlight” and “This barely even feels like a conversation, just a series of stone walls and briar patches.”

Also: “The house got a fresh coat of butter-coloured paint and some patches to the roof a couple of years back, but nothing can paper over its air of exhaustion. Its spine sags, and the lines of the window frames splay off-kilter. The yard is weeds and dust, blurring into the mountainside at the edges”

The dialogue as written easily evokes the Irish brogue, while the banter is often blackly funny: at one stage, Cal is surprised to find himself engaged, and the pub scene is very entertaining. The quirky cast from the first book, including those smart and amusing rooks, still appeal, and the reader’s investment in the main protagonists is amply rewarded.

This instalment is cleverly plotted with enough turns in the story to keep the reader thoroughly intrigued. While this sequel can be read as a stand-alone, there are some spoilers for the first book, and why would one deny themselves the pleasure of reading that one first? Brilliant Irish crime fiction.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Penguin UK.


Not quite up to her usual but still the same first-rate writing
THE HUNTER is Tana French's continuation of THE SEARCHER and its story of Cal, an American retired detective who has moved to a small town in Ireland; Trey, a teenaged girl in that town who is still set on righting the wrong that was the subject of THE SEARCHER; and the rest of Cal's neighbors, most of whom made me wonder at the end of the last book why he did not just leave and still make me wonder if he will. He should.

I've read all of French's books, and they normally rate five stars. But I don't rate THE HUNTER that way for two reasons: first, unlike most of French's books, this one has a slow beginning. Second, THE HUNTER assumes you have already read THE SEARCHER and remember all the particulars of the murder in that book. I did read it but did not remember everything. This was troublesome.

But (and this is a big but) French's writing, especially her dialogue, is as first rate as ever right from the start. You'll never want to give up on this book.

So you'll read about Cal and Trey and their neighbors again, including Lena, Cal's love interest who shares his concern for Trey, and Mart, the neighbor from hell, in my opinion, who pretends to be neighborly.

But there's not much action until another murder occurs almost halfway through the book. Anyone in the town could have done it, even someone from outside the town; the victim, Rushborough, was a despicable man.

Another man the town would like to get rid of is Johnny, Trey's father, who has come back after a 4-year absence, a man who loves no one but himself. He and Rushborpugh had come up with a scheme to sell these people on the idea that there was gold on their land. They were almost successful.

All in all, this town does not seem like a good place to live. I don't understand why Cal doesn't just get out of there. It's a beautiful piece of Ireland but full of trouble. If French continues this series, I think she's going to have to deal with that.

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Author Information

Tana French Author Biography

Tana French is the New York Times bestselling author of eight previous books, including In the Woods, The Likeness, and The Searcher. Her novels have sold over eight million copies worldwide and won numerous awards, including the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Best Mystery/Thriller, and the Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Dublin with her family.

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