Witch Elm
by French, Tana






Left for dead by burglars while partying with friends, a happy-go-lucky charmer takes refuge at his dilapidated ancestral home before a grisly discovery reveals an unsuspected family history. By the New York Times best-selling author of The Trespasser.





Tana French is the author of In the WoodsThe LikenessFaithful PlaceBroken 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.





*Starred Review* French, author of the award-winning Dublin Murder Squad series, delivers a spellbinding stand-alone novel carefully crafted in her unique, darkly elegant prose style, which Stephen King has called "incandescent." Toby Hennessy always considered himself a lucky guy, trading on his considerable charm for a successful life, until he has the misfortune to surprise two burglars in his flat. He is beaten and left for dead, and after a less-than-successful recovery, he agrees to care for his dying uncle, Hugo, at the family's ancestral home while working on regaining his own cognitive and motor skills. When a skull is found in the trunk of an ancient tree in the garden, his dysfunctional brain struggles to reassess the past, evidently not what it once seemed and now abounding in "million-euro" questions. Issues of identity permeate the narrative. Toby's previous forays using fake social-media accounts become an issue for the police. Welcome comic relief comes via Hugo's genealogy investigation service, now in high gear because of Americans confounded by their Irish DNA test results.  Toby finds himself wondering how much he had ever really known about his family, now so disconcerted that their misery is "like some rampaging animal," and the reader gets pulled into the vortex right along with them. As Oscar Wilde wrote, "The truth is rarely pure and never simple." Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.





A stand-alone novel from the author of the Dublin Murder Squad series. French has earned a reputation for atmospheric and existentially troubling police procedurals. Here, the protagonist is a crime victim rather than a detective. Toby Hennessy is a lucky man. He has a job he enjoys at an art gallery. He has a lovely girlfriend named Melissa. And he has a large, supportive family, including his kind Uncle Hugo and two cousins who are more like siblings. As the story begins, Toby's just gotten himself into a bit of a mess at work, but he's certain that he'll be able to smooth things over, because life is easy for him—until two men break into his apartment and brutally beat him. The damage Toby suffers, both physical and mental, undermines his sense of self. His movements are no longer relaxed and confident. His facility with words is gone. And his memory is full of appalling blanks. When he learns that his uncle is dying, Toby decides that he can still be useful by carin g for him, so he moves into the Hennessy family's ancestral home, and Melissa goes with him. The three of them form a happy family unit, but their idyll comes to an abrupt end when Toby's cousin's children find a human skull in the trunk of an elm tree at the bottom of the garden. As the police try to solve the mystery posed by this gruesome discovery, Toby begins to question everything he thought he knew about himself and his family. The narrative is fueled by some of the same themes French has explored in the past. It's reminiscent of The Likeness (2008) in the way it challenges the idea of identity as a fixed and certain construct. And the unreliability of memory was a central issue in her first novel, In the Woods (2007). The pace is slow, but the story is compelling, and French is deft in unraveling this book's puzzles. Readers will see some revelations coming long before Toby, but there are some shocking twists, too. Psychologically intense. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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