The Poison Tree

It is London in the sweltering summer of 1997. Karen is a strait-laced, straight-A university student. When she meets the impossibly glamorous Biba, a bohemian orphan who lives in a crumbling mansion in Highgate with her enigmatic brother Rex, she is soon drawn into their world. As the summer progresses, Karen becomes tangled up in their tragic family history and the idyll turns into a nightmare, culminating in murder.

A decade later, Karen collects Rex from prison. Together with their nine-year-old daughter Alice, they try to settle into family life. While Rex has served his time, Karen keeps dark secrets that mean she has her own life sentence to serve. What happened that summer casts a terrifying shadow over her future. Will the past catch up with her?

The Poison Tree was a major ITV drama starring MyAnna Buring, Matthew Goode and Ophelia Lovibond. It was a Richard & Judy Summer Read in 2011, and was longlisted for the 2011 CWA John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger Award. The novel has been translated into eleven languages.

It is published in hardback, paperback and ebook by Hodder & Stoughton, and is also available as an audiobook.

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“A terrific suspense debut, reminiscent of another British woman’s auspicious bow: Daphne DuMaurier’s REBECCA. The shadows gather until the ending looms like a threatening figure. This one gets the writer’s ultimate bit of praise: I wish I had written it.”
– Stephen King

“A beautifully crafted, evocative psychological thriller…A dark, poetic, gripping, totally brilliant Brideshead Revisited for the 21st century.”
– The Times

“An unusually good debut psychological thriller from an author who instinctively knows how to tell a suspense story and whose plotting, characterisation, fluent writing and dark humour should ensure her a successful career.”
– Daily Mail

“In her compelling debut, Erin Kelly evokes the brooding atmosphere of Rebecca in a contemporary and completely convincing novel of tangled family desires.”
– Sara Paretsky

“The spirit of Daphne Du Maurier hangs heavily over Kelly’s debut novel, from the gloomy old Highgate house where the heroine is lured to the unnerving, claustrophobic denouement. A taut chamber-piece of psychological suspense.”
– Financial Times

“A wonderfully tense and foreboding thriller that is at the same time a clever, considered study of desire and a good old-fashioned page-turner.”
– Psychologies

Ingeniously plotted and masterfully told, THE POISON TREE is an outstanding debut from Erin Kelly. A spellbinding tale of murder, guilt, and obsession, it will hold readers in suspense from the first sentence until the final shocking twist.
– Stefanie Pintoff, Edgar-award winning author of In the Shadow of Gotham and A Curtain Falls

“An elegant and sophisticated writer, great on sense of place.”
– Sophie Hannah

“Spooky… I absolutely loved it.”
– Alex Heminsley, BBC 6music

“The dark world of the psychological thriller has a bright new voice.”
– Daily Mirror

“A gripping debut, this thriller has a creeping sense of unease.”
– Bella

“Terrifically vivid, beautifully written.”

The Poison Tree will seep into your very soul. There is a brooding sense of impending doom and imminent danger in British author Erin Kelly’s debut novel, The Poison Tree. Its moody atmospherics will appeal to fans of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. The explosive ending, its revelations about the threesome and the lengths to which people will go to preserve or take what’s theirs, makes The Poison Tree a rich and satisfying pleasure.”
– USA Today

“Tense and menacing right from page one, filled with foreboding and a terrible sense of the inevitable, Kelly builds a feeling of claustrophobia and of seemingly ordinary people driven to do extraordinary things. It’s a gripping psychological thrill…and I expect the author to go far.”
– Bookseller

“A really great read.”
– Good Housekeeping

“Tense to the end.”
– Woman & Home

“Gripping…you won’t put it down.”
– Look

“An enjoyable excursion into territory first colonised by Barbara Vine.”
– Literary Review

“With forensic attention to detail, this mystery is all-consumingly addictive.”
– Easy Living

“A tense, twisting thriller…Atmospheric and gripping, it will keep you guessing the the end.”
– Cosmopolitan

“A psychological thriller that will give you chills.”
– Red

“A brilliant new voice in crime fiction… Kelly expertly builds up the suspense… For a debut, The Poison Tree is extremely accomplished – Kelly creates an atmosphere as claustrophobic as a summer commute, which permeates the narrative and keeps the reader hooked.”
– Stylist

Brilliant! THE POISON TREE grabs you with the first sentence and doesn’t let go — even after the last page; this is the sort of thriller that stays with you for a long, long time. Compelling and lyrically stylish, THE POISON TREE is a true winner!
– Jeffery Deaver, New York Times bestselling author of The Edge and The Burning Wire

“Intoxicating…Kelly gives readers a compelling creeper that intelligently invokes the conventions of the Gothic [and] offers the twisted pleasures of vengeance within its eerie narrative.”
– Washington Post

“[An] intriguing and well-written mystery.”
– Washington Times

“Weaving tangled webs, this is a gripping psychological thriller with believable characters and a fine sense of time and place. It will keep you intrigued from the menacing prologue to the defiant ending.”
– Choice