Self-involved, narcissistic and oblivious Toby Hennessy receives a harsh come-uppance in Tana French’s newest novel, The Witch Elm. This first-person narrative allows the reader to witness Toby’s transformation from an entitled jokester to a man shaken by events that cause him to question his morality and potential for cruelty. Toby works in PR at an art gallery when he is not out drinking with his friends or cuddled up with his wonderfully perfect and adoring girlfriend. After a typical night at the pub, Toby is awakened to the sound of strangers in his flat. When he surprises the burglars, Toby gets beaten so badly that he sustains a traumatic head injury that leaves him severely impaired. His recovery leaves him ashamed of his new limitations, and he soon sinks into a drug-hazed depression. His cousin suggests that Toby could use his medical leave to help their uncle, who is dying of cancer. Toby accedes to the plan when his girlfriend agrees to accompany him to his Uncle Hugh’s house, a long-time family estate and the location of many childhood memories. Toby struggles to manage his physical and mental difficulties but finds comfort in a new routine in the familiar surroundings. Their peace doesn’t last long, however. A skull is discovered in a tree on the grounds during a family meeting, leading to a disruptive and extensive police investigation. The evidence points to a potential murder that must have occurred during Toby’s adolescence, and he and other family members become the main suspects. Toby tries to do a bit of sleuthing, but his inquiries reveal some disturbing things about himself that he may have never realized or just can’t remember. Toby begins to distrust his family and his version of past events, leading him to question motives and suspect shared secrets. Tana French has an amazing ability to construct complete characters, making them so familiar with all their flaws and foibles. It is a testament to her talent that she can portray such an unlikeable character that believably evolves through her storytelling to become sympathetic. Much more than just an imaginative and well-plotted mystery, The Witch Elm is a study in the delusions brought about by privilege and entitlement. The author explores the theme of luck-by birth or circumstance-and whether experiences and/or nature allow certain people to avoid difficulties that would plague others. She addresses how small choices and purposeful ignorance can lead to a crisis of self. Fans of Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series will be delighted to see her talents sustained and expanded in this exceptional standalone addition to her work.