Saturday, January 17, 2015


The Poison TreeThe Poison Tree by Erin Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I first read Erin Kelly back in 2013 when her third book The Burning Air was offered on NetGalley. In my review I pledged to read both of her other books immediately since I had picked up her first The Poison Tree at a library book sale.

Since May of 2013 it has languished in a pile of other titles I have been meaning to read. Sometimes, just because the book is in the house or on my Kindle, it moves down the list. My loss because this is a truly compelling psychological suspense story.

OPENING LINE: "I let the telephone fall from my hand." With those few words, we are already drawn into the spiderweb.

The setting is London. Our narrator is Karen, an outstanding student and linguist, ready to graduate university. Her future is set. She just has to choose her path when she meets and becomes infatuated with Biba, an actress and free spirit. Eventually she moves into the crumbling mansion where Biba and her brother live. The lifestyle is bohemian and seductive and ultimately destructive. Lies and unspoken truths unfold layer by layer.

Even though the story jumps back in forth from 1997 to 2007, the transitions are beautifully handled. The reader is never confused about time and place. Erin Kelly writes so well that there were sentences I should have marked so I could find them again. These are the two things that make a book special for me: good writing and surprise. The Poison Tree has both.

Time to find a copy of The Dark Rose

BOTTOM LINE: If you like Kate Atkinson, Donna Tartt, or Tana French, you should try Erin Kelly. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Title: The Poison Tree
Author: Erin Kelly
Genre: Psychological Suspense, Thriller
Publisher: Viking / Penguin Books; Reprint edition (January 6, 2011)
No. of Pages: 336 pages
Copyright:2009 / Reprint 2011
ISBN-13: 978-0-670-02240-3
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Library book sale

Erin Kelly was born in London in 1976 and grew up in Essex. She read English at Warwick University and has been working as a journalist since 1998, writing for newspapers and magazines including Red, Psychologies, Marie Claire and Elle. She continues to write about health, lifestyle, women’s issues and parenting. Her fourth novel, The Ties that Bind, is out now, followed in August by Broadchurch: The Novel, inspired by the first season of 2013's mega-hit ITV series.

She lives in north London with her husband and daughters. (paraphrased from Erin Kelly's website)

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