The Witch Elm

The Witch Elm

Book - 2018
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"Tana French's best and most intricately nuanced novel yet. . . Get ready for the whiplash brought on by its final twists and turns." - The New York Times

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.
Publisher: New York, New York : Viking, [2018]
ISBN: 9780735224629
0735224625
Branch Call Number: X
Characteristics: 509 pages ; 24 cm

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Mooseum
Jan 20, 2019

Although her skill as a writer cannot be denied, this Tana French book was a lengthy meander. Maybe it was because I didn't feel any investment in the characters and that the main character was so self-centered as to be blind to his behaviour. The reader of this audio book was what kept me going, but in the end, it was too long and disappointing.

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NedSu
Jan 16, 2019

I admire Tana French's skill as a writer. If you find yourself skimming to get to the plot, you are missing a lot of her mastery of the art of writing. Her descriptions, mutating observations, and subjective character evolutions are pure literature. You can almost feel Ivy House, smell the benign neglect, see the hole where the Witch Elm used to be. While the plot may not be to everyone's liking, French asks a lot of questions about memory that assail us all, more so as we age. Facts as memories can be mutable, even if only 10 years ago.

4
42maxla
Jan 16, 2019

Tana French at her best. I could not put this book down.

ArapahoeAnnaL Jan 10, 2019

In Tana French novels people under stress do bad things. In "Witch Elm," French suggests that nothing, perhaps including a person's character, is permanent. This theme is carried out in very skillful ways throughout the book. Truly a "psychological mystery," the plot builds tension once the book gets going, the characters are well developed, the atmosphere compelling.

s
sandfordross
Jan 10, 2019

I really like Tana French, a very talented writer who is a master of her craft. That said, this book was really bad! After thirty or so pages, I started skimming, wondering if this had been written by somebody else. Never has it taken so long to say so little about somebody I could not care less about. Finally, after about 160 pages it became a little more interesting and then really, really dragged until the ridiculous ending.

Unfortunately for this book, I had just read some Reginald Hill and Fred Vargas novels over the holidays and the contrast to the incredible talent of these two writers was just too glaring. Knowing what a capable writer French is made this book truly a disappointment.

c
COURIER3
Jan 06, 2019

Can't read small print.

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MelyssaLynnAlberda
Jan 01, 2019

*SPOILERS*
The beginning was difficult, and I mean VERY difficult, to get into. Maybe it was because I had a hard time interpreting whether or not Tiernan was simply adding to/fixing Gouger's art or if Tiernan was Gouger. Either way, I didn't feel like it was as big of a crisis as it was played out to be. I remember actually thinking "so what?" The story is told through Toby's POV, and a lot of his thoughts or descriptions (and there are a lot of those...) didn't seem realistic, like way too literary. But who knows, maybe it's just my vocabulary that's lacking. Anyways, Toby ends up in the hospital after two burglars nearly beat him to death in his apartment. This part kept me intrigued, but just barely. Later, Toby finds out his uncle Hugo is dying from a brain tumor and decides to move in and take care of him during his final months. At one point, I realized I was about 150 pages in and so bored! I honestly wanted to give up, but I knew that the skull in the synopsis still hadn't been discovered yet, so I kept going. The book finally picked up just over half way through. But even so, the whodunnit seemed obvious to me. When Toby called Susanna to let her know it was Dominic's body in the tree, she was silent over the phone multiple times. I immediately got the impression that she seemed more distracted (ie. how is she going to get out of this one?) than shocked. I admit, I was just starting to believe that maybe Toby was the real murderer, when Susanna and Leon fessed up. So I wasn't blown away or anything, it was more of a "huh, thought so" moment. The twist with Toby and Rafferty was unexpected, but did anyone else think it was a little extra? I mean, I understand Toby threw the first punch, but would a detective, an individual of law enforcement, really egg on a fight with someone recovering from brain damage? I don't know. This was a hard one to rate, because honestly the character development was excellent and everything was eventually wrapped up in a nice little bow, down to Toby realizing he really was a lucky a**hole. There were parts I couldn't put down near the end, but at the end of the day, I think it was just too long, with too much dialogue, and not enough action for my taste.

a
athena14
Dec 29, 2018

I was bothered at first for how Leon was characterized: stereotypical gay man. Then I realized that was Toby's viewpoint and accepted it.

j
jrn520
Dec 24, 2018

I'm a fan of Tana French. 1st 100 pages- maybe because of likeable Toby, I thought Ms. French was channeling Nick Hornby (not a bad thing). The last half of book is ripping. The author is a gem.

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Mamamouse
Dec 17, 2018

Struggled a little with the first quarter of this novel - a bit of a slog, overly descriptive to the point where I wondered whether to continue. Then the writing got tighter and more focused on the plot and that drew me in. A very complicated story in terms of events and relationships, like life with a dose of 'unbelievability' and at times what felt like a couple of odd resolutions. Long but still enjoyed it.

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JCLGraceB Oct 18, 2018

JCLGraceB thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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ArapahoeAnnaL Jan 10, 2019

"...for whichever reason, growing apart or fighting or cheating or just getting old and dying, relationships don't last forever...But I was really in love with Jo. And ... I genuinely couldn't handle that." pg. 332

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