The Witch Elm by Tana French


This is the second time I picked up Witcn Elm as I didn’t get very far into the story the first go round. Admittedly it was my frame of mind as I had been hoping Tana would continue with the Dublin Murder Squad. With my husband and I staying in so much these days we decided to have our own book club.  We ordered a few books from Thift Books and set to reading The Witch Elm together.  It was enjoyable keeping the same pace and discussing the plot.

As with any Tana French mystery the writing was excellent. I do wish the book description hadn’t given away so much of the story ahead of time.
It was already established one of our main characters, Toby Hennessey, was a successful handsome man who came from a good family and always seemed to be….lucky.  That is how he is described.

One evening he is awakened during a home invasion and is viciously assaulted, leaving him with devasting injuries.  He decides to spend time at Ivy House with his uncle Hugo as he recovers and also to help his uncle.  Hugo has his own medical issues so its an ideal situation for both parties. At some point during  a family visit a human skull is discovered in the 200 year old Witch elm in the garden.

All of the above is known from the book jacket.

Incidentally, Ivy House is the ancesteral home of Toby’s grandparents and now Hugo, a gathering place for all family members to visit and have Sunday lunch. A place Toby and his cousins Leon and Susanna spent summers growing up and having parties.
As always Tana French’s writing style has you fully involved.  I felt like I was in the shadows witnessing these conversations between the cousins Toby, Susanna and Leon and those with Hugo.

The small trivial parts of a conversation such as Susanna ragging on Leon for picking through a bowl of nuts. “Stop picking  through, other people like cashews too, and besides it’s disgusting. ” That sort of natural banter that makes the scene so real.

Was I surprised by the ending? Yes.  There was an incident with a detective and Toby near the end that didn’t ring true with me.

Tana French is an excellent author and I will preorder any book she’s about to have published.  I can’t say that about any other writers with the exception of Jane Harper and Robert Galbraith.

Now for a bit of fun!  The character desciptions were detailed enough that we had our own mental images and tried to imagine a cast to play them if this were a movie.  Below see the decsription of Toby – thick straight blonde hair, very blue eyes and an open boyish face.


I’m picturing Emily Blunt as Susanna, Charlie Hunnam as Toby and Tom Hiddleston as Leon.

Anthony Hopkins as Hugo Hennessey, Saoirse Ronan as Melissa and David Tennant as Detective Rafferty.

Did you read the book? If so did you like it or wish Tana would go back to writing Dublin Murder Squad?

Sharing with Joy for British Isles Friday


9 thoughts on “The Witch Elm by Tana French

    • Vicki, it was great reading together and I recommend it if you have someone in your household who likes the same books. Tana French is a favorite of ours and if you read one of her books I would recommend starting with Into The Woods, its the first book. Loved her second book best of them all.


  1. This was the first Tana French book I read, and I liked it quite a lot. Since then I have been working through the Dublin Murder Squad — I think she’s mostly good. My review of The Witch Elm from a couple of years ago was here:

    I used to be in a book club that “cast” their favorite stars for each book after we discussed it. I was always out of the loop because I would think of someone like Humphrey Bogart when we were supposed to be in the moment.

    be well… mae at

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mae, initially I thought Sean Connery would be a great Hugo hut then realized he was way too old. I know what you mean.
      My favorite of her books is The Likeness and least favorite is Secret Place.


  2. I love the casting! I added The Witch Elm to my e-book wish list at the library. I’ve struggled some with reading during shelter-in-place — mysteries by authors that I already know and love are one thing that’s really working.


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