BOOK BITES | Tana French, Lydia Denworth, Anthony Horowitz

29 November 2020 - 00:00 By Sunday Times Books
'The Searcher' by Tana French, 'Friendship' by Lydia Denworth, 'Moonflower Murders' by Anthony Horowitz.
'The Searcher' by Tana French, 'Friendship' by Lydia Denworth, 'Moonflower Murders' by Anthony Horowitz.
Image: Supplied

Published in the Sunday Times (29/11/2020)

The Searcher ****
Tana French
Viking, R320

Burnt-out Chicago cop Cal Hooper buys a wrecked stone cottage in a remote Irish village. In making it serviceable again, he'll be putting together the pieces of his own wrecked life: a divorced wife, an estranged daughter, alienation from city life and an emotionally depleting job. With his early retirement comes the relief of having no other pressure than adjusting to a new community. Then a 12-year-old kid attaches himself to Hooper, chivvying him to search for a missing brother that no-one, not even the local gardai (police), seems interested in finding. Against his better judgment, Hooper becomes involved, only to find that under the idyllic overlay lurk nasty and dangerous secrets. French writes like a dream and The Searcher is a rare combination of a compelling plot, engrossing characters and a lyrically described Irish countryside cleverly counterpointed against the ugly reality of modern social ills. William Saunderson-Meyer @TheJaundicedEye

Friendship: The Evolution, Biology and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond ***
Lydia Denworth
Bloomsbury, R325

Denworth takes a clinical and methodical examination into the science behind friendship. From primates to human beings, scientists for years focused on male behaviour without looking at the evolutionary necessity of friendship bonds. "Fight or flight" is not our only survival stress response - we also have the crucial "tend and befriend". The networks primates and humans create contribute to our reproduction success, keeping the young alive, and impacting on our lifespan. Denworth also shows how educators and parents fail to understand the role of friendships in children and teens, from the way they use the internet to how they are forced into group projects. An informative read. Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

Moonflower Murders ***
Anthony Horowitz
Century, R310

Publisher Susan Ryeland has moved to Crete, where she runs a hotel with her partner. When she receives a visit from a British couple who own an upmarket hotel in Suffolk asking her to help look for their missing daughter, she is intrigued, as she once worked with Alan Conway, author of bestselling detective books. The Trehernes explain that before her disappearance, their daughter, Cecily, had called them saying she knew who murdered a guest in their hotel eight years ago and that the identity of the murderer is revealed in Conway's book Atticus Pünd Takes The Case, which Susan edited. Essentially this is two books in one - one set in real time with Susan - and the other, Atticus Pünd Takes The Case, in the 1950s, reminiscent of an Agatha Christie whodunnit. This weighty volume is populated by fascinating characters, both snobs and lowlifes, and keeps you guessing at the identity of the killer. Gabriella Bekes