Tall Oaks
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Tall Oaks : Winner of the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award

4.15 (447 ratings by Goodreads)
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***A MISSING CHILD THRILLER WITH A DEVASTATING TWIST***

'Noir has an anarchic new voice' SARAH HILARY

'A brilliant, beautiful, sad, funny book . . . also made me cry more than any other book I've read this year' EMMA FLINT

ISN'T IT ABOUT TIME THAT YOU MADE A DATE TO VISIT TALL OAKS?

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, full of suspense and packed with twists, this brilliant new thriller is like nothing you've read before.


SEE WHAT THE WORLD IS ALREADY SAYING ABOUT THIS BRILLIANT DEBUT NOVEL

'An absolute delight . . . Highly original' LAURA WILSON, GUARDIAN

'Completely blew me away' LISA HALL

'One of the best books I've read this year' JO SPAIN

'Chris Whitaker builds an entire town in the reader's head and masterfully inhabits it with comic, poignant, gripping life. Tall Oaks becomes a part of you' DAVID WHITEHOUSE

'It's rare that a novel can be both brilliantly comic and tragic, and balance the two so effortlessly' SUN

'A gripping debut' MAIL ON SUNDAY
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Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 130 x 200 x 25mm | 295g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1785770306
  • 9781785770302
  • 154,501

Review quote

Noir has an anarchic new voice * Sarah Hilary * A brilliant, beautiful, sad, funny book . . . It made me laugh, but it also made me cry more than any other book I've read this year * Emma Flint, author of Little Deaths * Tall Oaks is a pleasingly unusual mixture of psychological thriller and screwball comedy from a young writer who is clearly not afraid to take risks . . . its combination of verve, humour and pathos make it well worth a read. An absolute delight . . . highly original -- Laura Wilson * The Guardian * A perpetually fascinating read * Heat * It's rare that a novel can be both brilliantly comic and tragic, and balance the two so effortlessly but this tale does exactly that - with a tense rollercoaster of a story. A fine debut -- Jade Craddock * Sun * A gripping debut about a secret ridden American town that is propelled into the national spotlight when a three year old goes missing * Mail on Sunday * Entertains and intrigues * The Sunday Times Crime Club * Tall Oaks was an amazing read . . . Clever, atmospheric and with possibly the most diverse and divisive set of characters found together in one book . . . a deeply absorbing, character driven joy to read. All the characters are intensely well drawn, the setting is pitch perfect, the dialogue crackles most especially when Manny is involved - oh Manny how I will miss you . . . From the haunting and really quite scary opening salvo to the utterly unexpected and totally killer ending, the goings on in the town of Tall Oaks will grip you entirely. Pure brilliance. Highly Recommended. In my running for book of the year * Liz Loves Books * I absolutely loved this debut . . . what a delight this was, revealing itself as a brilliant cross between Twin Peaks and Fargo, and with some beautifully paced reveals that definitely caught this reader on the hop. It made me smile wryly, laugh out loud and gasp in appreciation throughout, with a colourful cast of characters that Whitaker introduces and pivots between seamlessly, slowly drawing us into the connections between them. There are moments of genuine tension carefully interspersed with warmth and humour, as this band of misfits, for various reasons, go about their daily lives, with the overriding urge to make personal and emotional connections with friends, lovers and relatives. It's wonderfully plotted, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Highly recommended * Raven Crime Reads * I always know when a book has completely blown me away - as a reader, I want to weep because I've finished it and I will never again get to experience it for the first time, and as a writer, it makes me want to weep because I wish I had written it myself. THIS IS ONE OF THOSE BOOKS * Reading Room With A View * Chris Whitaker cleverly set many clues and red herrings as to what had happened to Harry and when it was finally revealed, I was taken totally by surprise! The reader is treated to a cast of intriguing quirky characters and their stories all come together painting a great portrait of life in this small American town * Portobello Books Blog * Manny is a brilliant mix of bravado and teenage angst. This character gives the novel an extra little sparkle which makes it worth seeking out * Reviews Revues * You seriously have to read this book . . . brilliant * Lipstick and Lace Blog * Chris Whitaker writes at a good pace and the ending of the book took me completely by surprise. It is fantastic * Dot Scribbles * A dramatic and totally unexpected conclusion - it is well worth reading the book for that plotline alone and Manny and his family were really loveable characters, but I think Jared's back story touched me the most * It Takes A Woman * It's so original and captivating and weird and interesting and a really, really great read. It's a thriller but also funny with dark humour and its gripping, like really gripping. It sort of feels like a bit of a classic book in the making, one that you are going to want to pass around your family and friends, you know? * Is This Real Life * I have to admit that the ending did come as a genuine shock and surprise, so full marks to the Chris Whitaker for that * Culture Fly * There were several twists and turns, including a few OMG moments that kept me on the edge of my seat. But it's really everything going on in the background, how easily you get caught up in people's lives and the reading between the lines that makes this a book to remember * Off The Shelf Book Reviews * This was a fun and cleverly written book, and I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a good mystery with a hint of humour! * Emma's Bookery * My mouth went dry, my heart missed a beat. Tall Oaks is a small town but with big secrets, that I loved reading all about the brilliant cast of characters * I Read Novels Book Blog * Tall Oaks is an evolving tragedy with an uncompromising moody vibe and remarkable quick wit. Its sharp writing and snappy dialogue channel the undertow of deception to absolute perfection. If you asked me right now to name a book that would make an appearance in my top ten of 2016, without shadow of a doubt THIS would be one of them. Make no mistake, it's a THUMPINGLY good read * Little Bookness Lane * Tall Oaks is a blast. For a debut novel it is extraordinarily self-confident. It is by turns funny, dark, and ultimately comes close to ripping your heart out as Whitaker exposes the secrets of Tall Oaks, California. Read it. Clever, original and not really fair because this is a new writer, and it all seems so effortless. The writing is tight, the plotting supreme. Bravo young Chris Whitaker. Get going on the next one please * Frost Magazine * Compelling * Anna Book Bel * Some of the characters are unforgettable (...) I found this a very enjoyable tale with an interesting mystery to solve * Literary Review * All of life is there in Tall Oaks, Chris Whitaker was a financial trader in London, this is his debut novel and I enjoyed it a lot * Annabel's House of Books * I loved this first novel...Some of the characters are very funny (I deft anyone not to love Manny and his wisecracking quips) and others really make you feel for them...one that you'll want to read in one sitting -- Judith Griffith * New Books Magazine * I loved this debut by Chris Whitaker (...) From start to finish the story sucked me in and was a really quick read for me. Whitaker is a very cleaver writer and the book had a wide range of quirky characters each as interesting as the other * Nat's Reading Cloud * The book has a very intense opening salvo, goes along at a lovely pace and then hit me with a knockout blow of an ending, absolutely magnificent stuff! I couldn't stop thinking about this ending last night because of the haunting way the series of events is explained leading up to the shattering climax. A superb debut novel...If you like your crime with a heavy dose of humour, both light and dark, then this is one definitely for you * Breakaway Reviewers * I found this novel gripping, with the moments of darkness made bearable by lightening quick dialogue and sharp humour. This is much more than a contemporary look at life in small town America. It is a study of complex human relationships and their ultimate survival or destruction, by a host of wonderful characters. For a fresh, entertaining, and ultimately life affirming read, I highly recommend it * writing.ie * Tall Oaks is indeed the perfect literary embodiment of quirkiness, humour and emotion in a dynamic and entertaining read. I thought it was brilliant. I can't think of a single person in Tall Oaks who didn't add depth and enjoyment to the experience of reading the book - and it is an experience and not just an entertaining read. I've finished it feeling I know a little more about humanity as a result. Tall Oaks has everything - wit, empathy, mystery and a cast of people so real I feel I know each one in person * Linda's Book Blog * Let's get it out of the way: Tall Oaks is an extraordinary debut. A novel a seasoned, 'big name' author would be proud to have produced. The writing is carefully-crafted and assured, with not a word wasted. It provides depth and life, light and shade, to the characters and the town itself, both of which are skilfully drawn by Whitaker - Tall Oaks and its inhabitants live and breathe inside the covers of this novel, and it was a wrench to leave the place behind. The cover blurb for the novel states You'll have to look twice at Tall Oaks. This is one of the best books I've read in a long old time, and I can imagine people returning to the place again and again -- Mike Thomas * Author Mike Thomas' blog * I really enjoyed this story...well done Chris Whitaker! * It's Book Talk * I am pleased to say that the final section of the book satisfactorily resolves the many puzzles posed in the preceding part, and that several of the answers I did not see coming * Crime Review * My #1 book of 2016 OF COURSE it is Tall Oaks. Quirky, different, characters to die for...featuring a teenage character who once read is never forgotten in the voice and full on hilarity of Manny, surrounded by equally brilliant and divisive folk and following a mother who has lost her child with all the deeply emotional trauma that brings Tall Oaks is a dream read. Stole a weekend of my life, stole my heart and I'm not sure there are words enough to express my love for it. Tall Oaks is not a thriller. Tall Oaks is life. * Liz Loves Books * Tall Oaks is a fantastic novel...at times desperately sad and shockingly tragic but there is also a warm humour that runs through it. Its wit sparkles, especially in the dialogue and in its creation of Manny. Chris Whitaker is a marvellous, witty writer. Extraordinary * For Winter Nights * I'm not sure if small town America has ever been portrayed so brilliantly before. The characters in this book make it stand out above others. They are all complex, well developed and they make you feel something...you won't forget them easily. This really needs to be a movie, these characters deserve to be brought to life. I'll miss every single one of them and will think of them often. The ending and beginning of this book was utterly perfect, it had one of the best opening chapters I've ever read. And the twists were unexpected and totally unpredictable. I can't recommend this one enough and I can't wait to read what Whitaker comes up with next * Novel Gossip * Wow, wow, and thrice wow! When a surprise review copy dropped through my letterbox courtesy of Bonnier Zaffre I didn't know just how jaw droppingly good this would be. A child goes missing, a mother is distraught, the police chief takes of the town's grief, and that damned clown... It's pretty awesome - yes, all of it! * Little Bookness Lane * An ambitious debut, the novel pulls together multiple viewpoints to create a potent and poignant look at the impact of a child's disappearance on the seemingly idyllic community of Tall Oaks. If that wasn't enough, it's also a blackly-comic read, with moments of absurd brilliance throughout. * Big Issue North * 'This is a wonderful rendering of small-town America and the secrets and facades that keep it on the rails. A missing-child plot is driven by well-drawn leading and supporting characters, not least of all teenager Manny, whose search for an identity encapsulates the town's hidden truths.' * The Sunday Times Crime Club, Haylen Beck (Stuart McBride) picks Tall Oaks as one of his books of the year *
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About Chris Whitaker

Chris Whitaker's debut novel, Tall Oaks, was published in 2016. It was a Guardian crime book of the month as well as featuring in Crime Time's top 100 books of 2016 and BuzzFeed's incredible summer reads. It won the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award, and was shortlisted for the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award.

Chris lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two young sons.
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Rating details

447 ratings
4.15 out of 5 stars
5 43% (192)
4 37% (166)
3 14% (63)
2 4% (19)
1 2% (7)
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