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The Big Thrill Recommends: THE HUNTER by Tana French

Recommended By Neil Nyren

Book Cover: THE HUNTERFor 17 years, Tana French has been writing extraordinary crime novels. The plots are intricate, but it’s the character studies that interest her the most: the flawed heroes, the bad actors, the many lives caught up in a crime’s wake. She’s said she loves the “small odd things” that are part of people’s lives, and her books are full of them as her men and women try to navigate a landscape that, once familiar, is now alien.

She is the author of eight previous books. Six of them are stories of the Dublin Murder Squad, expert blends of police procedural and psychological thrillers featuring a different detective each time. Then came two standalones, the second of which, The Searcher, centered around a burned-out Chicago cop named Cal Hooper who has fled to a small rural Irish village to escape his past, and Trey, the wild-child, 13-year-old girl who recruits him in a search for her missing older brother.

They made a great pair, two misfits in a place filled with grudges and gossip, and the good news is they’re back in THE HUNTER. It’s two years later, their bond is close, but the events of The Searcher still haunt them. What’s worse is that Trey’s scheming father, who’d deserted the family four years before, is suddenly back in town, his mouth oozing false charm, his brain spinning his latest get-rich-quick plan. Cal distrusts him on sight—he especially doesn’t want to see Trey sucked in—but as events begin to build, he can tell it is only a matter of time before everything spins out of control.

And when they do, in dramatic fashion, it puts him, Trey, and everybody else around them in harm’s way. Beneath the smiles and banter of the village’s inhabitants surges a fierce dark current. Soon, it’s going to pull someone under. Everyone has a secret. Everyone has an agenda—even Trey, though for the life of him, Cal can’t figure out what it is, or whether it’s too late to do anything about it.

THE HUNTER is a spectacular novel, full of nuance and atmosphere, in which revenge takes center stage. But revenge can cut both ways….

“Think it through,” one character says late in the book. “This isn’t the time for shortsightedness. What’ll happen next? And then what’ll happen after that?”

You’ll think you know, but you won’t.

Neil Nyren


Neil Nyren is the former EVP, associate publisher, and editor in chief of G.P. Putnam’s Sons and the winner of the 2017 Ellery Queen Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Among the writers of crime and suspense he has edited are Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, John Sandford, C. J. Box, Robert Crais, Carl Hiaasen, Daniel Silva, Jack Higgins, Frederick Forsyth, Ken Follett, Jonathan Kellerman, Ed McBain, and Ace Atkins. He now writes about crime fiction and publishing for CrimeReads, BookTrib, The Big Thrill, and The Third Degree, among others, and is a contributing writer to the Anthony/Agatha/Macavity-winning How to Write a Mystery.

He is currently writing a monthly publishing column for the MWA newsletter The Third Degree, as well as a regular ITW-sponsored series on debut thriller authors for and is an editor at large for CrimeReads.

This column originally ran on Booktrib, where writers and readers meet.


The Big Thrill Recommends: THE HUNTER by Tana French