The Witch Elm
I just finished this last night—I started it on book tour and found it too creepy to read late at night in strange hotel rooms! You may know French from her six Dublin Murder Squad mysteries; this is her first standalone. The characters may be unfamiliar, but the slow build, brooding characters, and psychological tension feel like hallmark French. Toby Hennessy is a good-looking, well-to-do twenty-something. He's always considered himself lucky, but early in the novel he makes one bad decision. The devastating consequences lend an eery, off-kilter feel to the whole book (you'll see)—and that's <em>before</em> we get to the murder plot. This would be an excellent companion to Judy Blundell's The High Season for its themes of forgery, family, and privilege.
Named a best book of the fall by Vogue, Entertainment Weekly, Elle, Amazon, PopSugar, The Millions, LitHub, and Parade
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.