The Poison Tree

It is fall and that means it is kickoff time for the annual Crime and Mystery Book Discussion at my library.  This year we are reading titles of paranoia under the theme, “I See You Looking At Me!”

Our first title is The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly.  It was suggested as a possible book discussion title by Rebecca Vnuk on February 17, 2011, here on Book Group Buzz.

As a reminder, this story is bookended by a prologue and epilogue that set the stage for the psychological trauma that is going to occur within.  The novel is narrated by Karen, who could possibly win awards for being the Most Unreliable Narrator in a Crime Story.  Karen is attracted to Biba Capel, a flouncy student actress at her college and then falls for Biba’s brother Rex.  As the trio lives together in a Highgate, London, home, the issues of their lives surface as they interact with each other and other significant characters in the book.

As readers, we see both the approaching storm that is going to lead to two murders and, via a ten year jump in time, the consequences on those left standing.  One of the many discussable points in the book is that there are no likeable characters to root for;  there are characters who frustrated and disappoint, thus becoming fodder for the discussion.

Everything about this book for its stylistic technique, characters, setting and plot all make for a solid choice to discuss.  Then you can go read a happy book to cleanse yourself.

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About the Author:

Gary Niebuhr is the author of Make Mine a Mystery (2003), Caught up in Crime (2009), and other readers' guides to mystery and detective fiction. He was a Booklist contributor from 2008-2014.

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