Thursday 7 March 2019

Review - The Wych Elm by Tana French

The Wych Elm by Tana French
Publisher: Viking Books
Release date: 21 February 2019
Back cover blurb: 'For me it all goes back to that night, the dark corroded hinge between before and after, the slipped-in sheet of trick glass that tints everything on one side in its own murky colours and leaves everything on the other luminous and untouchable.' One night changes everything for Toby. He's always led a charmed life - until a brutal attack leaves him damaged and traumatised, unsure even of the person he used to be. He seeks refuge at his family's ancestral home, the Ivy House, filled with memories of wild-strawberry summers and teenage parties with his cousins. But not long after Toby's arrival, a discovery is made: a skull, tucked neatly inside the old wych elm in the garden. As detectives begin to close in, Toby is forced to examine everything he thought he knew about his family, his past, and himself. A spellbinding standalone from a literary writer who turns the crime genre inside out, The Wych Elm asks what we become, and what we're capable of, if we no longer know who we are.

The Wych Elm is not the first book I've read by Tana French, but it is probably the most unusual.

Toby Hennessy has led a charmed life so far, he has the luck of the Irish, that's for sure. Working for a art gallery in PR, he is successful, has a beautiful girlfriend and his friend's jealousy ... For Toby is the kind of guy, who always lands on his feet.

That is until one fateful night out. Upon his return home he passes out, only to be woken by intruders who brutally attack and rob him in the early hours. Toby's charmed life, suddenly isn't so, and he is left with slurred speech, a dodgy hand, a slight limp and PTSD.

Toby is forced by a set of circumstances to return to his family's ancestral home, Ivy House, a beautiful house with the Wych Elm of the novel's title in the garden. Amongst loving family members he begins to make a recovery, but then a discovery is made that will turn all of their lives upside down.

A skull in the Wych Elm, a human skull, a potential murder victim. Who does it belong to, how did it get there ... so many unanswered questions. Questions that make Toby's head hurt, make his injury feel real again, and wishing that he had never returned.

His discomfort only deepens when he learns that he knew the murder victim back when he was a teenager. Does that mean that someone he is close to is responsible? Could he even be responsible? Toby's memory hasn't been the same since the burglary and assault, but a lack of memory surely doesn't make him a killer ...

As Toby begins to question everything he thought he knew about his life, the police close in on Ivy House, certain that their suspect resides or has resided there in the past. Can Toby discover the truth before they do. If the truth is even obtainable?

The Wych Elm is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.