Named a New York Times Notable Book of 2018
“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) and an excellent holiday gift.
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.
An Amazon Best Book of October 2018: Unlike Tana French’s earlier novels, The Witch Elm is narrated not by a Dublin Murder Squad detective, but rather by Toby, a charming young man who always seems to have luck on his side. Toby’s life is forever altered after a home invasion at his apartment leaves him brutally beaten, his future uncertain. Who would do this to him, and why? That appears to be the story French is going to tell, but while Toby is convalescing at the family’s ancestral home a human skull is discovered. The identity of the deceased leads back to a long-ago summer when Toby and his cousins lived at the house—and a whole new mystery begins to unfold. How well do we really know those closest to us? Or even ourselves? These are questions that French elegantly poses in The Witch Elm, and the answers are not as obvious as they might seem. Tana French’s first standalone mystery is a twisty delight for existing fans. It is also the perfect book for newcomers to discover one of fiction’s best crime writers. —Seira Wilson, Amazon Book Review
Praise for The Witch Elm:
“ ‘I’ve always considered myself to be, basically, a lucky person.’ That’s the first line of Tana French’s extraordinary new novel . . . Here’s a things-go-bad story Thomas Hardy could have written in his prime . . . the book is lifted by French’s nervy, almost obsessive prose . . . This is good work by a good writer. For the reader, what luck.” – Stephen King, the New York Times Book Review
“Tana French is at her suspenseful best in The Witch Elm . . . Tana French’s best and most intricately nuanced novel yet . . . She is in a class by herself as a superb psychological novelist . . . French’s heretofore finest novel . . . Get ready for the whiplash brought on by its final twists and turns.” – Janet Maslin, the New York Times
“Like all of her novels, it becomes an incisive psychological portrait embedded in a mesmerizing murder mystery. [French] could make a Target run feel tense and revelatory.” — LA Times
“Like all of French’s novels, The Witch Elm can be swooningly evocative . . . even if Toby isn’t on the Dublin Murder Squad, the events in The Witch Elm spur his great, transformative upheaval. The discovery they force on him revolves around one question: Whose story is this? By the time French is done retooling the mystery form—it seems there’s nothing she can’t make it do, no purpose she can’t make it serve—the answer is clear: hers and hers alone.” – Laura Miller, Slate
“Head-spinning. . . French has spun an engrossing meditation on memory, identity, and family. A master of psychological complexity, she toys with the minds of her characters and readers both.” –Vogue
”The Witch Elm, which follows a privileged man whose life gets derailed, is a timely window into what happens when men lose their precious power . . . French’s masterful character study is absolutely riveting and timely.” — Buzzfeed
“ . . . detail-rich sequences lead to psychological insights and unexpected revelations.” — The Wall Street Journal