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.  


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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...