The Poison Tree is a dark thriller of a tale that brings together three people one hot summer…and leaves two dead.
It’s 1997, and Karen Clarke, a university student at Queen Charlotte’s College is coming towards the end of her final year. She is smart and a natural when it comes to languages. When she comes across a girl scribbling a note asking for a native German speaker for help with translating and accent tutoring, little does she know that her life will never be the same again.
The girl is Biba – Bathsheba – Capel, an aspiring actress and theatre student. She is everything that Karen is not…popular, extrovert, glamorous, bohemian, over the top…It doesn’t take long for Karen to be drawn into her world, a world of drama, drugs, drink and danger.
Biba’s brother, Rex, is fiercely protective of his sister. Living in a large, crumbling property in a fashionable area of London, Rex has raised Biba alone. But even he can’t completely reign in her more excessive behaviour.
Karen’s father has spoken to her at length about everyone having one summer that they remember for the rest of their life, and she knows this is hers and doesn’t want it to end. But when it does, it does so in a way none of them expect…
This book was a roller-coaster of a read. Set in both the past – 1997 – and the present – ten years later – the story of what happened that fateful summer is slowly unravelled, but not everything has been laid to rest over time. In fact, the past has never quite let Karen go…
The change between the past and the present is fluid; there is no jarring in momentum. The atmosphere and suspense builds as the story moves along, gathering pace until it finally reaches a crescendo in the final pages. There were a few twists and turns in the story that you can guess whilst reading, but there are others that I did not expect. I could not put this book down until I had finished reading as I needed to know how it ended.
I recommend this book to those who enjoy dark, evocative stories in a similar vein to Daphne du Maurier’s writing.