Book Review – Tall Oaks by Chris Whitaker

The Blurb

Tall Oaks is an idyllic small town, until the disappearance of a young child throws the tight-knit community into crisis.

Jess Monroe, the boy’s distraught mother, is simultaneously leading the search and battling her own grief and self-destructive behaviour. Her neighbours watch on, their sympathy masking a string of dark secrets.

This is a small town where nothing is as it seems, and everyone has something to hide. And as the investigation draws towards a climax, prepare for a devastating final twist…

Dark but laugh-out-loud funny, full of suspense and packed with twists, this brilliant new thriller is like nothing you’ve read before.

My Thoughts

‘’’We’re all fucked-up in one way or another.’’’

I have had Tall Oaks sitting on my Kindle for a while and have been dying to get around to reading it, but never seemed to find the time. Fellow reviewers and bloggers have raved about it, and I had to see if it lived up to the hype.

Whitaker’s debut novel centres around the small American town of Tall Oaks. A close-knit, well-heeled neighbourhood with a small crime rate, Tall Oaks has been rocked by the disappearance of three-year old Harry Monroe. This is not, however, your run-of-the-mill crime novel. Tall Oaks is a novel about community, facades and never really knowing what goes on behind closed doors.

I was impressed by Whitaker’s writing. Despite being British he pulls off the American setting perfectly, and I never once felt I was anywhere other than the USA. For the duration it takes to read Tall Oaks you are fully immersed in this very American town and living and breathing amongst its inhabitants.

With a large cast of characters, it would be easy for some to have more of a peripheral feel, but each one has been carefully thought out and developed to the point that they all leave their mark on you. Incredibly well plotted, the intertwining nature of their lives works perfectly with Whitaker skilfully holding back enough information to add intrigue and then weaving it all together flawlessly at the end. It is hard to believe that this is Whitaker’s debut novel.

Tall Oaks is dark and emotional yet very funny. It relies on the individual stories of each town member to bring it to fruition and I adored this aspect. It made me laugh and at the same time moved me. The gradual unfurling of secrets helps you identify with each and every character while simultaneously throwing you off the scent of the story at its core, resulting in an ending that took me completely off-guard and yet made perfect sense.

Quite unlike anything I have read before, Tall Oaks is quirky, refreshing and compelling. It is one of those books that leaves you feeling upset that you won’t ever experience it for the first time again, but you know you will find yourself re-reading it to look for clues you may have missed the first time around. A work of pure brilliance!

Published on eBook on 7 April 2016 and paperback on 8 September 2016 by Twenty7 (Bonnier Zaffre).

Thank you to Chris Whitaker, Bonnier Zaffre and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

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