Thursday, November 5, 2020

The Searcher by Tana French

This review contains spoilers in the "BAD" section, I'm also adding a trigger warning for misgendering of a person and queer baiting. 


Overview 

This is a mystery "thriller" from Tana French. Set in Ireland and follows the story of a retired cop from America. It's definitely more mystery than thriller and definitely a slow burn book, leaning more toward literary fiction than straight up thriller. 

Plot 


Cal has moved to Ireland after his retirement from the police force and divorce from his ex wife, the mother of his adult daughter. 

Cal meets Trey, a teen whose brother has gone missing. Trey is the only one who seems to care where Brendan went and asks Cal to help look for him. 

Writing


The writing of The Searcher is all over the place, at times it's taut and thrilling, and at times it meanders so slowly that whole chapters go by with nothing happening. I'm a little surprised this isn't a debut. If I didn't know it was written by Tana French who has seven other novels published I'd have assumed it was a debut thriller. 

Characters


I liked the characters a lot, particularly Cal who was flawed but inherently likeable even if he did occasionally do stuff that was downright stupid, reckless and unbelievable. 

I loved Trey, but a lot of what I liked is a spoiler unfortunately. 

The good


The Searcher is in parts captivating to the point where I couldn't put it down, but then it would slowly drop off and be boring for 50 pages at a time. I really struggled to finish this book unfortunately. 

The bad


Buckle up bitches, I got mad about this. So, Trey is a teenager who meets Cal right? Shows up at Cal's place one night, watching Cal's place, kind of sussing him out. Eventually Trey gets the guts to ask Cal for helping finding Brendan. 

Trey's a boy's name, Trey is described as a boy, Cal uses he/him pronouns all the way through the book until just over halfway, when Cal finds out that Trey is in fact a girl named Teresa. Now, here's what pissed me off: Firstly, Cal continues to misgender Trey after finding out she is in fact a girl. When he's done misgendering her, he listens to another character say that they believe Trey is a lesbian purely because she dresses in boys clothing. All in all, it's just a really cheap, gross reveal that's designed to put the reader on the back foot and make you mistrust Trey for no reason other than shock value. 

Trey is not trans, it's revealed she dresses in masculine clothes to avoid people's attention and focus on her body. But Tana French lets the reader wonder just long enough whether Trey might be trans that I think it's queer baiting. 

Trans people are not plot devices. Being gay is not a plot device. I personally think it's a really shitty move on the part of the author. And while Trey isn't trans the implication is there and it just sits poorly with me. I find it uncomfortable that Trey's gender is some big reveal in order to build suspense and suspicion. 

Final thoughts:


This is a meh mystery book in my opinion. Parts of it were very gripping and I couldn't put it down but once the reveal about Trey happened I found that the book fell apart. Cal falls back on some weird old stereotypes and suddenly instead of Trey being perceived as taciturn and surly, the character arc becomes about fear and vulnerability. Cheap plot device, meh ending, all in all not worth the read for me personally.

I wish I could say more about this book but honestly, it's not worthy of a lengthy review and that disappoints me.  


Friday, October 30, 2020

Review: Little Bones by NV Peacock


 

Overview

This is the first adult thriller by N.V Peacock, who has previously written young adult horror/supernatural books. This debut into the adult genre packs a hefty punch and I couldn't put it down. 

Plot

Little Bones follows the story of Cherrie, who used to be Leigh-Ann, AKA Little Bones. To keep it simple I'm going to call her Cherrie as that's the name the character chose for herself. Cherrie is the daughter of a serial killer the media dubbed Mr. Bones. Cherrie's father used her as bait to entice young boys into his car and killed them, using them for his macabre artworks and allowing Cherrie to help him in his studio. 

Years after Cherrie's father is convicted and incarcerated, a young boy goes missing and a podcast which draws similarities between this new missing persons case and the crimes of Mr Bones turns Cherrie's life upside down. Cherrie has hidden her identity and with one fell swoop the creator of this podcast has ruined Cherrie's life. 

Writing

Like I said, this isn't the author's first book, just their first step into adult thrillers and the writing is impeccable. The way the author portrays Cherrie's descent into sleep deprivation and a willingness to do whatever it takes to put her life back together is very eerie, fast paced and enthralling. The characters felt very real and at one point I almost picked up my phone to google Mr. Bones to check if he was a real criminal and this was based on a true story. 

The sentence structure is punchy, a lot of sentences are short and deliver information rapid fire and as the main character unravels the writing becomes more intense and perfectly illustrates Cherrie's mindset. The dialogue is similar in that the characters are short tempered and angry with each other and it perfectly shines through. I did find the dialogue a little jarring at first but once I got used to it, I was hooked. 

The Characters

As mentioned, Cherrie is the daughter of a serial killer. Her mother killed herself when she found out what her husband was doing and Cherrie was put in foster care. When she turned 17 she changed her name from Leigh Ann to Cherrie and left her old life behind. 

Her new life includes her boyfriend Leo and their son Robin. Both Leo and Robin have distinct and unique voices as characters and though Leo becomes a bit unlikeable that's in line with the character and story arc that unfolds. The side characters feel a little bit under-developed but that isn't surprising given how fast paced this thriller is. I did find myself having to clarify which side character was which a couple of times. 

The Atmosphere

The atmosphere of this book is claustrophobic and creepy. Part of it takes place in a carnival setting which should be a happy and fun place but the book twists that until the carnival feels dark and foreboding. The atmosphere and settings match perfectly with Cherrie's inner monologue and the pace this thriller moves. I 

The Good

This thriller kept me guessing until the last twist. I found myself suspecting everyone of the crime at the centre of this plot and kept wondering how the detectives in the story could be looking in the wrong direction, when I was too. I was wrong by the way, I never guessed who the criminal was. 

The Bad

The ending. It was abrupt and very unbelievable. That's all I'm going to say about that. 

Final thoughts

Despite the fact the ending is a bit weak the novel is a great first adult thriller and I was enthralled the entire way through. I stayed up way past my usual bedtime to finish it and to me that's the sign of a good book. If your eyes are heavy but you're fighting through it to read the last 2 chapters it's definitely at least a 4 star book in my eyes. 

Not only was this the author's first adult thriller but I think it would be ideal for someone just getting into thrillers. 

Trigger warnings: serial killer (duh), childhood trauma, kidnapping, murder, stalking. 

Little Bones by N.V. Peacock comes out on the 31st of October 2020. 

Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC. 


The Searcher by Tana French

This review contains spoilers in the "BAD" section, I'm also adding a trigger warning for misgendering of a person and queer b...