The Hunter

Viking. (Cal Hooper, Bk. 2). Mar. 2024. 480p. ISBN 9780593493434. $32. M
The talented French returns to the quaint-on-the-surface Irish village of Ardnakelty and the protagonists of The Searcher in this lively, character-driven, occasionally treacherous story. After two years in Ardnakelty, former Chicago cop Cal Hooper is finally feeling accepted by his neighbors, and he has built a found family with his widowed girlfriend Lena and teenager Theresa “Trey” Reddy. The fragile family unit is threatened when Trey’s wayward father, gone for many years, returns to Ardnakelty. Johnny Reddy was always trouble, and nobody—but especially not Trey or her mother—is happy to see him again. But Johnny has a get-rich scheme for the locals, and his silver-tongued pitch to them begins to take hold. Cal is wary, but he keeps close to the action for reasons of his own. When a wealthy British businessman follows Johnny from London, a plan to find gold in the Ardnakelty hills begins. But a murder mars the scheme and sets everyone in the village, Cal included, against one another.
VERDICT With quicksilver dialogue and deep characterizations, French portrays the Ardnakelty villagers’ “gift of gab” and the roiling emotions beneath the banter splendidly. A few plot points strain credulity, but it’s a treat for French’s many fans and for readers who prefer realistic Irish characters and settings.
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