The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly
A Novel

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From an incredible new voice in psychological suspense, a novel about the secrets that remain after a final bohemian summer of excess turns deadly.

This taut psychological thriller begins when Karen and her nine-year- old daughter, Alice, pick up Rex from a ten-year stint in prison for murder. Flash back to the sultry summer in 1990s London when Karen, a straight-A student on the verge of college graduation, first meets the exotic, flamboyant Biba and joins her louche life in a crumbling mansion in Highgate. She begins a relationship with Biba's enigmatic and protective older brother, Rex, and falls into a blissful rhythm of sex, alcohol, and endless summer nights. Naïvely, Karen assumes her newfound happiness will last forever. But Biba and Rex have a complicated family history-one of abandonment, suicide, and crippling guilt-and Karen's summer of freedom is about to end in blood.

When old ghosts come back to destroy the life it has taken Karen a decade to build, she has everything to lose. She will do whatever it takes to protect her family and keep her secret. Alternating between the fragile present and the lingering past with a shocker of an ending, The Poison Tree is a brilliant suspense debut that will appeal to readers of Kate Atkinson, Donna Tartt, and Tana French.

About Erin Kelly

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ERIN KELLY is an author and freelance journalist. She lives in North London with her husband and daughter. Her previous books include The Poison Tree and The Dark Rose.
Published January 6, 2011 by Penguin Books. 338 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Crime. Fiction
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Unrated Critic Reviews for The Poison Tree

Kirkus Reviews

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Karen Clarke’s perfectly ordinary life changes forever the day she spots an unusual girl writing a message on the corkboard in the hall of the London college where Karen studies linguistics.

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New York Journal of Books

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Erin Kelly’s impressive debut novel, The Poison Tree, tells the tale of seemingly prim and straight-A language student Karen Clarke who has just finished her final year at university in London.

Jan 06 2011 | Read Full Review of The Poison Tree: A Novel

Book Reporter

Erin Kelly dangles suspense carrots early on in her edge-of-the-seat debut thriller: “[The floor] was in terrible condition when we lived there, and afterward, there was that terrible stain.” Honor student Karen Clarke has just finished university and settles in at eccentric Biba’s GREAT EXPECTAT...

Mar 28 2011 | Read Full Review of The Poison Tree: A Novel

The Washington Times

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After Biba’s disappearance, Karen accepts the role of mother to little Alice, and when Rex is released from prison, Karen allows him to believe Alice is the offspring of their affair.

Jan 07 2011 | Read Full Review of The Poison Tree: A Novel

The Telegraph

A family tragedy gave Biba the right to be upset, but her rampant narcissism, embodied in a remark she made to Karen - “the only interesting thing about you is me” – meant you felt far less sympathy for her than you did her beleaguered father (Ralph Brown), the supposed villain of the pi...

Dec 10 2012 | Read Full Review of The Poison Tree: A Novel

The Bookbag

However, it's a real joy to read a novel that satisfies so thoroughly and I can't wait to read Kelly's next offering.

Sep 08 2012 | Read Full Review of The Poison Tree: A Novel

Review (Barnes & Noble)

A gifted linguistics student and the only child of working-class parents, Karen is a cautious, slightly drab heroine who would be equally at home in a Daphne du Maurier novel.

Feb 07 2011 | Read Full Review of The Poison Tree: A Novel

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

The Poison Tree, the debut novel from British author Erin Kelly, begins with a young woman named Karen driving her child, nine-year-old Alice to pick up husband Rex.

Jan 10 2011 | Read Full Review of The Poison Tree: A Novel

Huffington Post

Biba, Rex and Karen's past was full of pleasure, parties and passion, but impending tragedy Sure enough, in flashback, we were thrust with Karen into the world of the Capels, the glamorous Biba - self-consciously exotic like only an arts student can be - and her brother, the enigmatic Rex - a w...

Dec 10 2012 | Read Full Review of The Poison Tree: A Novel

Huffington Post

Karen, Rex and Beba might have been having a fully dysfunctional time - with the guiltless person the only one of the three to experience life behind bars - but they could have been funded by the South East English Tourist Board while they were at it.

Dec 17 2012 | Read Full Review of The Poison Tree: A Novel

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