• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of The Witch Elm by Tana French

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

Within a suspenseful mystery structure, French explores privilege, interconnectedness, and the many shades of gray that complicate her characters' fraught situations.

This is a lurking, suspenseful Tana French mystery, so I was plowing through it as usual, eager to find out the story behind the story.


But French also dips her toe into how privilege, luck, (possibly somewhat blind) loyalty—and, in several instances, a shocking absence of guilt and potentially skewed sense of justice—shape lives and carry events.


Some of these characters felt lacking in humanity on some level, yet French made me sympathize with their plights. Others seemed to take a sensitive look at their places within the world but became embroiled in ugly business and somewhat tragic ends anyway.


French explores how interconnected everything is, how many shades of gray there can be in a situation, and how few people are without dirty hands or without any blame.

What did you think?

French is the author of six books in the Dublin Murder Squad series: In the Woods, The Likeness (my absolute favorite of hers), Faithful Place, The Trespasser, Broken Harbor, and The Secret Place (which I haven't yet read), plus this stand-alone book and another, The Searcher (publication October 2020).