50 pages 1 hour read

Tana French

The Witch Elm

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2018

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Chapters 5-7

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 5 Summary

After the discovery of a human skill in the garden, Susanna escorts her children inside Ivy House while the other adults assess the skull and call the police. The first officers at Ivy House question the group and instruct them to remain inside. The whirlwind of activity overstimulates Toby, giving him an intense headache. Leon seems especially unnerved by the skull’s appearance. Detective Mike Rafferty arrives a few hours later and interviews the children, Zach and Sallie.

Rafferty then interviews the adults, establishing a history of home ownership. Hugo recalls digging in the wych elm with his brothers as a child. Leon recalls playing near the wych elm and placing a long stick in its hole to assess its depth as a child. Toby remembers falling out of the same tree and breaking his ankle, but has trouble recalling his childhood memories. Rafferty informs the family that a tree surgeon will extract the wych elm, which saddens everyone. He asks for a key to the door in the garden wall, but Hugo reports that his only spare key went missing years ago. After Rafferty leaves, Leon seems irritated and regretful at not throwing the skull away and forgetting about it.