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The Wych Elm Reader Reviews

The Wych Elm

drena irish

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.

Tana French is the author of the six books in the critically acclaimed 'Dublin Murder Squad' series. 'The Wych Elm' is her first standalone crime thriller.

It recounts the story of Toby, a socially privileged young white man who, after a night out with friends, is brutally beaten and left for dead, when he disturbs two burglars.He gradually has to come to grips with the fact that the future he presumed would be his is now unlikely to be so. He takes on the care of his terminally ill uncle Hugo at the family estate as he convalesces. Whilst there, a skull is found in the trunk of the tree of the book's title and the subsequent events cast not only Toby's future but his past and present into doubt.

The story is told with Ms French's characteristically masterful command of incisive dialogue and intricate prose. She builds the intrigue, suspense and menace from page one so the reader is immediately immersed in the atmosphere and hooked.

But this is more than a crime thriller, it flags up one of the great ills of our society. This book is about how privilege and social media can provide a facade from behind which it is all too easy to ride roughshod over the feelings of others, if not something even worse. It is about the unreliability of memory and how identity can be manipulated. It is a timely, chilling and thoughtprovoking exploration of the nature of our perceptions of other people.

Rachel Aygin

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!

From the very first chapter I knew this was the kind of book where the writing was so good that it didn't matter if there was no plot at all - I would still be wrapped up in it. But there were plots within plots. It's not the typical crime novel, although there are twists and turns and things you just don't see coming. It is something much more. Tana French really gets inside the minds of the characters, so much so that they actually seem like real people. There are so many strands of plot that you are left wondering what is the main plot but this a good thing as everything seems so intriguing. At the beginning of the story, Toby is involved in something dodgy at the gallery where he works and I found myself thinking "OK so this is interesting. I wonder what will happen." Then Toby is attacked by burglars in his flat and I thought "Oh so this is the main plot." Then later on a skull is found in the garden and I thought "Just what is going on here?". I love trying to guess what will happen next in a book and 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!

Book Information

ISBN: 9780241379509
Publication date: 21st February 2019
Author: Tana French
Publisher: Viking an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 528 pages
Genres: Books of the Month, Reader Reviewed Books, Crime / Mystery, Thriller / Suspense,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),