I never heard of this book until it made the Booker Prize List (and it just made the short list). Even after the synopsis I still wasn’t sure what I was getting. And The Trees is a total ride. Definitely one of the most fascinating books I’ve read in a long time.
And was quite the reading experience for me.
So The Trees is about a series of murders in small town Money, Mississippi. We’ve got dead white guys who’ve also been mutilated. The bodies are found with a very dead black man at each scene.
No one knows who the guy actually is. No one knows why he seems even deader than the other people. And really know one knows why the dead black guy won’t just stay in the coroner’s office and starts turning up at the scene of other homicides. So the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations sends two agents in to investigate.
And really we’ve got a set up for a fascinating murder case here.
*** This is going to perhaps be slightly spoilery. I don’t get into details but in talking about the book (and what works and what didn’t) maybe I give to much away- especially if you want to experience first hand for yourself. Suffice it to say I still give it a 4.5 and would highly recommend.
The first part of this book I wasn’t prepared for it to be so entertaining. The Detectives have great typical banter and are pretty funny. The Sheriff’s deputies are too in an absolutely pointless idiot kind of way. But it works. (FYI be warned about language, racism and copious use of the N word.)
But then the murders get connected to the horrific murder of Emmett Till and a part of me was kind of like should this be more serious? It felt a little weird to me. Now the book does shift into a serious and moving investigation of the past history of lynching. And I think in that regard it managed the tone pretty well. And we do get answers as to the case.
The last half though was kind of odd as the murders basically escalate cross country. And like I could see what Everett as doing it just felt to me like it had gotten away from the heart of the story at that point. The Trees still makes its point but I do feel like it lost a little something by getting so outlandish and could have perhaps (for me) hit even harder if it had stayed closer to the beginning.