Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Pamela Dorman Books. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.
If you're anything like me, then don't start reading Erin Kelly's The Poison Tree unless you have some time to spare. The plot is immediately mysterious and takes off at a run; you'll need to keep reading.
Here's the publisher's summary:
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.In the opening pages, we know only that a woman has left her house in hurry. We don't know why, and we don't know if she is racing to something or escaping from something (or somebody?). The situation is desperate, and she has no time to think:
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.
The seat belt digs into the flesh between by breasts as I make an emergency stop to avoid hitting the truck that suddenly looms in front of me. It's a filthy vehicle of indeterminate color . . . moving so slowly that the driver must be drunk. I have no option but to slow to a crawl behind him.And thus by page 3 you are hooked. As you learn more about this woman's life--both present and past--you'll attempt to put together the facts before you get to the last chapter. Maybe you'll succeed, but I didn't. Rather than ruin the book by providing too much information, I'll leave you with three opinions:
I ought to use this enforced pause for rational thought. But there is nothing rational about this situation. I am driving alone in pajamas and wet, clammy boots on a country lane in the middle of the night. Nobody knows where I am or why. I had only been thinking of the others but for the first time it strikes me that my own safety might be compromised if I continue. . . .
I am frightened, but I feel strong. I have the strength of a woman who has everything to lose.
- Nicole from Linus's Blanket notes that the novel is "A sort of backward murder mystery, if you will, we know the identity of the killer, but what we don’t know is why he did it or whom he killed. The story unfolds in Karen’s first person narrative, and everyone the reader meets as Karen shares the story of their past, is a potential murder victim."
- Maureen Corrigan, writing for the Washington Post, concludes: "In 'The Poison Tree,' Kelly gives readers a compelling creeper that intelligently invokes the conventions of the Gothic and plays within the doom-laden confines of the voice-over. More please, Ms. Kelly! Quickly!"
- Publisher's Weekly wrote: "Though melodrama looms, including a double homicide, the tension never wanes, and the ensuing horror comes as a major shock. The surprises don't end until the last page of this twisted tale with its wonderfully evocative London atmosphere."
Pamela Dorman Books is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For more information about the imprint, please read Pamela Dorman's introductory letter, posted here on December 3, 2010.