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The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly
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The Poison Tree (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Erin Kelly

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5113319,861 (3.63)28
Member:tina1969
Title:The Poison Tree
Authors:Erin Kelly
Info:Hodder & Stoughton Ltd (2010), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly (2009)

  1. 11
    The Secret History by Donna Tartt (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Something disturbing sometimes happens when young people congregate. These gothic tales feature young, bohemian, and intellectual characters becoming caught up in relationships that lead to tragic results.
  2. 00
    The Likeness by Tana French (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: In both of these emotionally complex, brooding novels of psychological suspense, the female character at the center becomes entangled in a bohemian lifestyle, only to find it's rather more difficult to disengage. Both also feature multi-faceted characters and ever-increasing tension.… (more)
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English (34)  Dutch (1)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
Karen is at university in London in the 90s – but she is anything but your typical uni student! She shares a house with four other girls and they are all very sensible, with steady boyfriends, playing tennis at the weekends and doing nothing more rebellious than sharing a bottle of white over their homecooked meals.

Poison TreeBut then Karen meets Biba – a beautiful, carefree aspiring actress, and Karen finds herself sucked into Biba’s world which is so unlike her own. She spends the summer living in Biba’s rambling Highgate home with an assortment of characters including Biba’s over-protective brother Rex.

Karen narrates the story, and the action flits from the summer with Biba, to ten years in the future. We know from the blurb on the back that the summer ended in a double murder, so of course we spend the majority of the book trying to work out who the victims may have been!


This was a very well written book, and as with all good thrillers you really want to read on to work out what has happened, and as the book progresses we piece together what happened all those years ago at the house in Highgate. We are sucked into Biba’s world and learn a lot about the characters, and I could really see how Karen would find herself in the same position as the reader- fascinated by the exciting life of her glamorous new friend.

I think one of the problems I had with this book – and other books of this nature – is you spend the whole book trying to figure out what has happened and, in this case, who has been murdered, that by the time you do find out it doesn’t come as a shock at all. There is also another twist at the end that I did see coming, so again this took the edge off it a bit for me.

However overall I really enjoyed this book. It is an intriguing read and it is all cleverly put together. I would definitely check out more from Erin Kelly.

SPOILERS - Biba shot her drug-dealing boyfriend Guy and the nosy next door neighbour. Guy took the rap while Karen and Biba both ran away separately. Guy gets locked up for 10 years - Karen comes to find Biba to discover she is pregnant and Karen ends up literally holding the baby, who she brings up as her own for ten years. Guy gets out of prison believing the daughter is his. Biba turns up after they thought she was dead and wants her baby back. Karen kills her by strangling and pushing her into setting concrete.
My rating: 7 out of 10 ( )
  AHouseOfBooks | Jan 27, 2016 |
Tried to read this one. Not interesting at all, so I put it down in favor of a book that grabbed me. I may try again later. ( )
  CarmenMilligan | Jan 18, 2016 |
A good vacation read. This one is about a girl whose life becomes intertwined with a manic and fascinating woman at her college. As she gets sucked into her world she becomes enamored with the carefree lifestyle. It reminded me a bit of The Secret History and The Likeness, though of the three I think The Likeness is the best. ( )
  bookworm12 | Nov 19, 2015 |
An interesting story, although after a while I found it hard to accept that the female teller of the story, her boyfriend who was brother of the other female main character, remained blind to the weakness of and selfishness of his sister from the moment the two women met, right up until the drastic finale. It offered a view of the non-caring and egotistical belief of someone who accepted that scatterbrained and impossible behavior was a god-given right. The misguided reason why a brother thought his sister's willful behavior must be constantly forgiven and defended for so many years was too unbelievable in the end - especially when he let himself be sentenced to twenty years in prison for a murder she committed, and didn't seem to accept any responsibility for thereafter.
No doubt there are very colorful characters everywhere, but the irresponsible and often hurtful conduct illustrated in this story would ultimately lead to losing the friendship of any relative or friend who is half-way 'normal'. People generally have a limit to what they condone, and loving someone does not stop one's brains musing over what is actually right or wrong. The story was well written and it's a pity that the author didn't spend more time figuring out a plot that showed more strength of character and more reality than I read about here. ( )
  dragonflydancing | May 24, 2015 |
I rated this book more on personal enjoyment than content. This book wasn't for me; I found myself skim reading a lot. ( )
  Tarklovishki | Oct 31, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
Although slow to start, I very much enjoyed THE POISON TREE, being pulled into the life of the central three characters over their intimate summer, in which Karen learns more about the strange circumstances of this brother and sister, and about the complexities underlying their behaviour.
added by bsiemens | editEuro Crime, Maxine Clarke (Jun 1, 2011)
 
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Epigraph
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So ging's mit uns an Sommerabenden in Zeiten, da wir Kinder waren und dachten, Liebende zu sein. "The River Road", Sean O'Brien
Dedication
This book is dedicated to the father of my child
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I let the telephone fall from my hands.
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Het pad dat we kozen op zomeravonden
In de tijd dat we kinderen waren
En minnaars dachten te zijn.

'The River Road', Sean O'Brein
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Karen reflects on the summer of 1997, when she went from being a college student on the verge of graduation to spending time with her new rebellious friend Biba and dating Biba's brother, Rex, while Karen and her nine-year-old daughter, Alice, pick up Rex from prison ten years after that summer, when he has finished serving his sentence for murder.
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Picking up Rex after a ten-year prison sentence for murder, Karen remembers the bohemian summer in 1990s London when their carefree romance and excesses became subject to a complicated family history and ended in violence.

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