This is another standalone, and quite different again; a mystery infused with the spirit of a Western. The Searcher tells of 48-year-old Cal Hooper, a Chicago police officer who has taken early retirement and moved to the rural west of Ireland with the intention of doing up the crumbling house he has bought. He is befriended by Trey, a shy, skinny 13-year-old with a buzz-cut, who eventually reveals that his beloved 19-year-old brother Brendan has been missing for months and nobody, not Trey's family, the locals or even the police, seems bothered. Cal is drawn into to the unresolved case; is Brendan a genuine runaway? If so, was he running towards something, or away from something-or someone?
Where does “The Searcher” stand in the lineup of French’s books? It’s an outlier: not her most accessible but not to be missed. It’s unusually contemplative and visual, as if she literally needed this breath of fresh air. It steps back to examine the policing powers she has traditionally taken for granted. And it’s her foray into the natural world, which is so welcome right now. It’s also slower than some of her other books. But as Cal says in the folksy western voice he often affects here, “All’s you can do is your best.”