Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Witch Elm

Cover image for The witch elm
The Witch Elm
By Tana French
Viking, 2018, 509 pages, Mystery

Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who's dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life—he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family's ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden, and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.

This is a novel that will keep you guessing!  Every person in this novel has something a little off about them, and they all seem like they have something to hide. Since Toby’s run-in with burglars, he has memory problems that make it hard to figure out what’s going on. As he asks his cousins over and over again about his past, they seem not to trust him with the truth. Even the police seem a bit suspicious. While I don’t usually like books about unreliable or morally ambiguous characters, and this novel is possibly full of them, I can’t stop thinking about this novel just the same!

This is a book about actions and consequences, and about how some innocuous things from your past can come back to haunt you. French takes her time unfolding the plot of this book, which really gives both the reader and Toby a chance to try to look at what’s happening from every angle. The book is excellently written, and the audio narration was also well done, although frequent salty language might mean you want to read this one instead of listening to it. This book is a great choice for anyone who loved Patricia Highsmith’s classic novel, The Talented Mr. Ripley.


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