Tana French scores another bullseye with her standalone novel The Witch Elm, an engrossing story about an Irish family who finds a skull in a tree in their garden. I'm a total sucker for this kind of story; it ticks all of my boxes, and even though I figured out "who did it" about 200 pages in, I could not stop myself from racing through it. A mix of police procedural, family loss, communal living, and functional disability — all bound up together in the patriarchal home passed down through generations — this is a tale of terror, hate, revenge, and murder. French can so perfectly render her characters, they feel alive. Examining themes of abuse, homophobia, memory, crime, and self-identity, The Witch Elm is a smart story of one family's implosion. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
French's latest is a brilliant psychological mystery. It left me feeling deeply unsettled, in the very best way. It is an intelligent, painful examination of familial bonds. It questions the price of embracing the dark night of the soul and the moral danger inherent in close examination of individual intent, in facing truths clouded by time, personality, and affection. It also has a creepy mansion, a long dead body, conflicted characters, a relentless detective, and depicts profound loss and heartbreak. Though not part of the Dublin murder squad series, DO NOT miss this. It's French at her best. Recommended By Kathi K., Powells.com
Readers familiar with Tana French's books will not be surprised by the depth of her latest mystery, nor by the dark current that runs beneath the surface of the plot. It begins typically enough: crimes are committed — maybe unrelated, maybe not — and the narrator takes it upon himself to conduct his own investigation. But the book doesn't end with the killer's confession, it continues on into the aftermath. And what starts out as an engrossing whodunit develops into a devastating reflection on identity, character, and the ways self-perception can diverge from public image. More than escapist fiction, The Witch Elm is a thought-provoking read that transcends the genre! Recommended By Lauren P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A brilliant new work of suspense from "the most important crime novelist to emerge in the past 10 years." (Washington Post)
From the writer who "inspires cultic devotion in readers" (The New Yorker) and has been called "incandescent" by Stephen King, "absolutely mesmerizing" by Gillian Flynn, and "unputdownable" (People), comes a gripping new novel that turns a crime story inside out.
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.
A spellbinding standalone from one of the best suspense writers working today, The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we're capable of, when we no longer know who we are.
“Tana French is at the cutting edge of crime fiction, and The Witch Elm pushes its boundaries further.” The New Republic
"You savor the details — the delicious portrayal of crisp fall weather in Ireland — as you race through the pages...A tick-tocking mystery and a fascinating portrayal of memory as a cracked mirror, through which the past can’t quite be seen clearly." Seattle Times
“Tana French’s The Witch Elm is a chilling mystery about the unreliability of memory.” Real Simple
“Head-spinning...French has spun an engrossing meditation on memory, identity, and family. A master of psychological complexity, she toys with the minds of her characters and readers both.” Vogue
About the Author
Tana French is the author of In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place, Broken Harbor and The Secret Place. Her books have won awards including the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards, the Los Angeles Times Award for Best Mystery/Thriller, and the Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Dublin with her family.