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GIVE ME THE COLD, HARD FACTS
Book: The Witch Elm
Author: Tana French
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THIS BOOK?
Yes, as long as you can be patient with the story. If you’re looking for a fast paced thriller, move along.
TELL ME ABOUT IT ALREADY!
Is luck an integral part of a person, or is it more like a possession that can be lost? Toby, The Witch Elm’s unreliable and unlikable narrator, explores this question after a dramatic change in his circumstances. Though still definitely a crime novel, French explores the core mystery of the story while constructing a compelling study of Toby and his relationships with friends and family.
The plot is a burn so slow I almost didn’t stick around (but am ultimately glad I did). After interrupting a burglary and being beaten almost to death, Toby is left with brain damage and without a sense of self. Struggling with recovery, he eventually decides to move-in with his terminally ill Uncle Hugo. When human remains are discovered in the titular witch elm, Toby takes it upon himself to do some sleuthing and his discoveries lead him to question his relationships, memories, and who he has become.
Though this novel was more an exploration of the human psyche than the murder mystery I was anticipating, Tana French is an author I would like to revisit. Even when the story was moving at a snail’s pace, her writing kept me going. This book’s ending is also one of the more interesting I’ve read; French somehow manages to introduce a VERY late twist but still wrap things up tidily.