The Witch Elm

The Witch Elm

Large Print - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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.
Publisher: [New York, New York] : Random House Large Print, [2018]
Edition: Large print edition.
ISBN: 9781984882684
Branch Call Number: LPF FRENCH, TANA
Characteristics: 768 pages (large print) ; 24 cm
large print,rda


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jun 10, 2019


Jun 05, 2019

I tore through the first part of this psychological thriller, savoring the vague sense of suspense underlying callow, privileged Toby's narration, his struggle to adapt to life with brain damage, and sense of dislocation. And I was drawn in to the scenario of Toby and Melissa playing at domesticity while caring for Uncle Hugo. But eventually the novel became too much of a good thing: pages and pages of dialog and different threads of plot taking forever to unravel. French seems to bend over backwards to give every character equal weight, regardless of their importance to the plot. Near the end I found myself skimming Toby's internal monologues, which had become repetitive without revealing much. I had a few issues with the plot as well, which I won't detail here to avoid spoilers, but did not understand what prompted Uncle Hugo's final action or why Detective Rafferty bothered to pay a call on Toby at the end. Also, I'm not a fan of moral relativism, so the sensibiity that "person X got away with a crime, so it's only fair that everyone else does too" did not sit well.
Despite my reaction to The Witch Elm, I admire French as a writer of contemporary mysteries. I've read and enjoyed two of the Dublin Murder Squad books, and will undoubtedly read more.

Jun 01, 2019

desperately in need of an editor.

May 31, 2019

Not bad. Dark. Not a part of the series by Tana French.

May 31, 2019

Elegant prose and enough plot twists to keep interest thru longish length. Colorful well-developed story; keep an open mind to absorb obviously-flawed main character to read-thru this meaty well-plotted, character-driven novel. A little patience pays off richly!

May 10, 2019

This is the first (and last) book by this author that I will read. What a bore!

May 08, 2019

I have to agree with Arapahoe Alice and the other reviewers -- Toby was an unsympathetic (and not that interesting) character, and it took way too long to get to the unsatisfying ending -- there's no redemption for anyone here. I hope this isn't the new trend for Tana French.

IndyPL_CarriG Apr 22, 2019

A departure from Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad novels, this novel is much more in the vein of The Girl on the Train than many that claim the honor. Toby's life seems charmed and heading exactly in the direction he wants it. His quick wit and good looks have always helped him talk his way out of any type of trouble and into great situations for himself. What happens though, when a near-deadly attack takes away his sharp mind, and leaves him with scars, a droopy eyelid, a limp and a stutter?
This is a lovely story with people who have flaws. It's also an examination of the trauma that happens in the aftermath of a brutal attack. It's also a mystery novel with an unreliable narrator who doesn't even know whether he is unreliable or not. I love French's Murder Squad novels but I was thoroughly delighted with this one too. It's long and leisurely, great for rainy spring mornings!

Apr 05, 2019

Way too long. Good story. Enjoyed it for the most part. Kept me interested, although I did skim some to help cut to the chase

Apr 01, 2019

I was thoroughly sick of Toby before the end. Couldn't believe the saintly Melissa. Love Tana French mysteries. Checking out Val McDermid and Denise Mina.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
ArapahoeMaryA Mar 13, 2019

But we’re so desperate, aren’t we, to believe that bad luck only happens to people who deserve it. People genuinely can’t take it in that someone could die of cancer without bloody well smoking.

ArapahoeAnnaL Jan 10, 2019

"...for whichever reason, growing apart or fighting or cheating or just getting old and dying, relationships don't last forever...But I was really in love with Jo. And ... I genuinely couldn't handle that." pg. 332


Add Age Suitability
JCLGraceB Oct 18, 2018

JCLGraceB thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SMPL

To Top