>Erin Kelly, The Poison Tree (2010)


This novel is a British debut. In many ways it resembles Barbara Vine´s “The Fatal Inversion” and also to some extent her later novel “Grasshopper”.

Young Karen Clarke is an ordinary student who leads what she regards as a boring, insignificant life, until she meets the drama student Biba and her brother Rex in 1997. Their world is so different and infatuating that within a few days, Karen is whirled into a fascinating world of drinking, partying, irresponsibility – the kind of sweltering summer she feels a young person has to experience at least once.

On the whole, the characters are interesting and well-drawn though Karen may seem a bit too naive about the ways of the new world she is absorbed by. There is a strong sense of premonition throughout the story. The reader knows from the beginning that everything is going to change by the end of the fatal summer, people are going to die, but not exactly who or how or why.

We also know that one of the consequnces of the dramatic summer was Alice, Karen´s young daughter, and that Karen is prepared to go to great lengths to protect her family. Some old secrets are festering like wounds, however, meaning that even though Karen escaped, the past will not let her alone.

Erin Kelly may not be quite in Barbara Vine´s league, yet she knows how to put an exciting story together, and I hope to read more crime fiction from her hand.

The book was an ARC kindly sent to me by Maxine who also noticed this similarity with “A Fatal Inversion”

Maxine´s Euro Crime review.


About Dorte Hummelshøj Jakobsen

I am a Danish teacher. In my spare time I read, write and review crime fiction.
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