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The Wych Elm

by Tana French

Books of the Month Books with reviews by our Reader Review Panel Crime / Mystery Reading Group Recommendations Thriller and Suspense

LoveReading View on The Wych Elm

An engrossing thriller replete with family drama, psychological intrigue, cunningly-plotted deeds, authentically complex characters and a tree-lodged skeleton at its root.

With a good job, adoring girlfriend, loyal mates and wealthy family, Toby is a privileged sort whose life implodes when he’s badly beaten by thieves who break into his Dublin apartment. Left with some speech and mobility impairment and memory loss, Toby decides to move into the rambling family home to be with his terminally ill genealogist uncle. Soon after, while Toby struggles with the trauma and effects of the beating, a skeleton is found inside an ancient wych elm in the garden, and it’s not long before detectives find a connection with Toby.

The gritty, authentic portrayal of family dynamics centres around a set of bickering cousins, whose bitter teenage experiences rear their heads as a truly multi-layered mystery unfolds. Toby being a quintessential unreliable narrator adds further tension to the tale, with unexpected twists coming to the very end. This character-driven crime thriller sure packs a powerful paranoia-fuelled punch.

Joanne Owen

The Wych Elm Synopsis

One night changes everything for Toby. He's always led a charmed life - until a brutal attack leaves him damaged and traumatised, unsure even of the person he used to be. He seeks refuge at his family's ancestral home, the Ivy House, filled with memories of wild-strawberry summers and teenage parties with his cousins. But not long after Toby's arrival, a discovery is made: a skull, tucked neatly inside the old wych elm in the garden. As detectives begin to close in, Toby is forced to examine everything he thought he knew about his family, his past, and himself. A spellbinding standalone from a literary writer who turns the crime genre inside out, The Wych Elm asks what we become, and what we're capable of, if we no longer know who we are.

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The Wych Elm Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

This gripping tome with a very slow fuse culminating in a spectacularly explosive, unexpected ending chronicles the transformation of the protagonist, Toby, as he sees his life unravelling before him. Full review

drena irish

For me the best books are the ones where I just can't work it out. Hats off to Tana French - my inner detective just couldn't keep up! Full review

Rachel Aygin

The Wych Elm Press Reviews

Tana French is one of those rare writers whose publication date you put in your diary. Her effortless verve, insight and black wit still glimmer from every page. -- Kate Riordan, author of 'The Girl in the Photograph'

A spectacularly talented writer -- Louise O'Neill, author of 'Asking for It'

French is a poet of mood and a master builder of plots -- Maureen Corrigan - The Washington Post

Inspires cultic devotion in readers...most crime fiction is diverting; French's is consuming - The New Yorker

Absolutely mesmerizing -- Gillian Flynn The new Tartt...every bit as good as The Secret History - The Times on 'The Secret Place'

Exquisite, magnificent - a dense, hypnotic novel from one of the greatest fiction writers of this century. I am breathtaken. I am in awe. I feel enriched having read it. -- AJ Finn

'I drop everything for a new Tana French book - feign illness, cancel plans and miss deadlines - and it's always worth it. The Wych Elm is her best novel yet...this mystery about family, memory and the cracks in both will haunt you for a long, long time' -- Erin Kelly

Her best book. Really, it is not a crime novel: as ever, Tana's scope is so much broader than that. It's a book about identity, childhood, luck and family...I absolutely loved it. -- Gillian McAllister

Gripping and suspenseful, with more twists than a rollercoaster, The Wych Elm is a magnificent novel -- John Boyne

Terrific - terrifying, amazing, and the prose is incandescent -- Stephen King -

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780241379509
Publication date: 21/02/2019
Publisher: Viking an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780241379509
Publication date: 21st February 2019
Author: Tana French
Publisher: Viking an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Hardback
Genres: Books of the Month, Reader Reviewed Books, Crime / Mystery, Reading Groups, Thriller / Suspense,

About Tana French

Tana French grew up in Ireland, Italy, the US and Malawi, and has lived in Dublin since 1990. She trained as an actress at Trinity College, Dublin, and has worked in theatre, film and voiceover.   Author photo © Kyran O’Brien

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