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Tall Oaks

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  944 ratings  ·  198 reviews
For fans of Twin Peaks and The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair, this brilliant debut is dark yet hilarious, suspenseful and sad.

Everyone has a secret in Tall Oaks . . .

When three-year-old Harry goes missing, the whole of America turns its attention to one small town. Everyone is eager to help. Everyone is a suspect.

Desperate mother Jess, whose grief is driving her to
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 8th 2016 by twenty7 (first published April 7th 2016)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  944 ratings  ·  198 reviews

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Amazing debut novel, great read, out of the box! A story that combines humor with tragedy in a weirdly logical way. A colorful community of characters, all sort of connected one way or the other, set the stage for this weird and sad story and various sideline stories. Will return with more, but here's already a review from The Guardian in italic below, good description for me. And yes, yes, I loved Manny, he is so funny and sweet! A surprising twist in the end, did not see that one coming....
Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings)
"Tall Oaks" - 'small town, big secrets' and wow are there some strange and deadly secrets in Tall Oaks!!
Three year old Harry has gone missing. His mother Jess refuses to give up hope and with the help of the dedicated local police chief can they help solve the biggest mystery to ever occur in Tall Oaks? Will another resident hold the key to his disappearance and what will they do with the information?
I really enjoyed this book, from the very start I was drawn into the story and literally couldn
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, favorites
My first 5-star-read this year! Yay! First of all, huge thanks to Amy. Her wonderful review made me pick this up.
Tall Oaks started off with a bang, a really frightening scene involving a clown and the abduction of a small child. It then required some patience as numerous inhabitants of Tall Oaks were introduced. The frequently changing perspectives, sometimes just a small paragraph without any indication that the point of view had changed, were confusing initially, but once all the characters w
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's an evil clown in it. ...more
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
All of my reviews can be found on

My last read was a massive disappointment so I decided to pick up Tall Oaks after it had come highly recommended from both Annie at The Misstery and Renee at It’s Book Talk. I am so glad that they brought this gem of a book to my attention as it has a firm spot in my top reads of the year!

I’m sure we’ve all seen and read plenty of books that claim that everyone has secrets, then you read it and are left wondering, that was the big secret? The
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a curious book this was! Tall Oaks is a village full of quirky characters hiding secrets, and when the secrets become known, there is heartbreak. Yet parts of the story are heartwarming as well. If the characters are looked at closely, they could all be stereotypes. In this book, it doesn’t matter. They all feel human in the end. Not a thriller, and not even a mystery per se, but it was an enjoyable read.
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a very entertaining read. A missing child case in a small town in America, a small town where almost everyone has secrets- far too many people with secrets really! but who cares?! It was well done and funny but also a genuine whodunnit. I didn't guess..the characters were varied and interesting. My favourites were Manny, the teenager and his friends and family. Chris Whitaker paints observant and kind portrayals of these people. The POV changes frequently so you need to pay attention.
Liz Barnsley
Tall Oaks was an amazing read – talk about sucking you in and eating up a day, that is basically what this novel did to me this last weekend. Clever, atmospheric and with possibly the most diverse and divisive set of characters found together in one book, Tall Oaks is the story of one community, its rythym and rhyme and the people that live there.

The small town vibe is brilliantly described, holding it all together is the smart and psychological mystery element – just what DID happen to 3 year o
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Read the review in my blog >> Tall Oaks is, hands down, one of my top reads this year. It has already become one of my favorite books ever. The novel started with a creepy first chapter that truly fascinated me. A few pages later, I was laughing out loud. Other scenes were just so tragic I wanted to hug some of the characters. This book has EVERYTHING. A great mystery, humor, romance, awesome characters, surprising secrets…

So what’s this about? A small town full of secrets. The story begins
Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine)
Please visit Lit> read more of my reviews. Don't forget to enter my December giveaway for a $100 Amazon gift card!

I was really looking forward to this book, based not only on the description, but the outstanding reviews; many of which came from trusted fellow bloggers and Goodreads friends. I'm always a little insecure when my opinion is so different but I suppose it's bound to happen now and then. After all, we can't be expected to agree on every book, right??

Tall Oakes started
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this tale of life in a small American town where life is generally good and nothing bad happens - except that is for the kidnapping of three-year-old Harry from his bed one night, a crime which remains unsolved several months later. While local sheriff Jim berates himself with being unable to solve the disappearance, Harry's mother Jess spirals out of control in her distress. Yet within this apparently settled and tightly-knit community, dark secrets lurk behind many doors - adult ...more
Zuky the BookBum
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, 4-stars
This is a book that had been on my shelves for ages, and for some reason, I kept pushing it further and further down my TBR pile. Finally, I picked it up and I’m so glad that I did! This was the perfect holiday read for me!

I got through this book in less than 24 hours purely because there was so much going on in the story. The story sped along, and the way the chapters were set out to focus on a different character each time made for an entertaining and continuously moving read. There was a set
Oct 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this debut- Tall Oaks by Chris Whitaker– and from the rather humdrum synopsis on the back of the book, I have an awful feeling that the casual browser may miss out on a rare treat. Missing child from small American town, and seemingly cardboard cut out characters, did not really sell it to me from the jacket alone. But 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 ...more
Tracy Fenton
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My Review: Tall Oaks is the debut novel by Chris Whitaker and having heard only wonderful things about this book I decided it was time to read it. OMG why had I not read this book before? Why is this book not recommended more and talked about more on book groups? There are very few books that I have read that I feel my review can do it justice and Tall Oaks is one of them. I apologise in advance if I am now waffling as I am so excited and delighted to recommend this book to you.

The book starts o
Kate~Bibliophile Book Club
I had Tall Oaks on my TBR for far too long so it was another book I picked to read this summer and I’m just sorry I left it so long. It is a taut and emotive story, with such a great cast of characters that I was sucked in immediately when I started reading it. I couldn’t put it down until the very end and its safe to say I was put through the emotional wringer by the end. Highly recommended!
Absolutely superb. Do yourself a favour and read this marvellous novel.

Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Welcome to Tall Oaks; just another small California town. Except for one thing. A tragedy which sets it apart from the neighbouring towns. When three-year-old Harry goes missing from his home, the residents find themselves and the town thrust into the spotlight. Many of them have secrets they want to remain hidden, none more so than the person who took Harry. But in a town where no-one is entirely honest with one another, how do you narrow down the pool of suspects. And who had reason to take Ha ...more
Renita D'Silva
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the best thrillers I have read. Peppered with humour and wisdom. Loved Manny.
Renee (itsbooktalk)
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars you can find all my reviews at

Sometimes when a blurb says "Everyone is a suspect" I tend to think that's highly unlikely and there often ends up being only about two suspects. In the case of Tall Oaks, the wonderful debut novel by Chris Whitaker, just about everyone actually is a suspect and that's just how I like my mysteries! Time to put on my biggest detective hat and figure out what happened to three-year-old Harry...and what's Jared..and Henrietta.. and Jerry (
Apr 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
An excellent debut novel by author Chris Whitaker.
Three-year-old Harry Monroe goes missing and the whole of America turns its attention to one small town, Tall Oaks. There are numerous suspects and lots of offers of help for the desperate mother Jess.

This debut novel is full of fascinating characters and considering the subject matter there is a hefty dose of humour. Every emotion is felt reading this book, there are laugh out loud moments as well as tearful ones. I loved reading about the wanna
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I had such high hopes for this book. I purchased it after hearing so many great things about it that I knew I had to give it a read. Sadly it didn't take long for me to realise it just wasn't for me. There are to many characters as well as the story jumping around to them all that I just couldn't keep up and take in and connect to any of them. Since reading more reviews that have likened this book to Twin Peaks I think this could be where the issue lies. I never got the show and sadly didn't get ...more
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice quick light read with some very amusing characters and clever twists at the end !
Hope that there is a sequel as would definitely read more about Manny, Jerry, etc
Rachel Hall
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Combining a missing child storyline with a cast of crackpot characters and whip-smart black humour shouldn’t in theory work and has the potential to be considered somewhat distasteful, but my, how it works in Chris Whitaker’s mesmeric debut novel, Tall Oaks. Instead, this fly on the wall take on life is the small and well-heeled American town of Tall Oaks as the search for missing three-year-old Harry Monroe passes the three month juncture is a marvellously atmospheric psychological thriller dri ...more
G.J. Minett
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Tall Oaks is a small American town populated by decent people who have known each other all their lives. When three-year-old Harry Monroe goes missing, it’s the sort of community you’d expect to rally round and find him before the day is out. Someone must know something. But months later his desperate mother Jess is an increasingly isolated figure, still printing off posters of her son and putting them on display around the town with the police investigation apparently at a standstill. And it’s ...more
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Tall Oaks is a small town that grows progressively smaller as the investigation of a missing child stalks the neighbourhood, relentlessly looking for information as to his whereabouts.

The sinister foundations of Tall Oaks are meticulously laid. But it’s as though I was eavesdropping on conversation exchanges rather than reading, catching snippets of events as they unfurled. I ‘listened in’ as the town remained stoic, and the shockwaves from the disappearance of a three year old boy ripple throug
Jacob Collins
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Tall Oaks is an exceptional debut by Chris Whitaker that I found myself completely sucked into. I have never felt myself immersed by so many different characters in one book which gave the story a very Broadchurch feel but American style.

At the heart of Tall Oaks is the investigation into the disappearance of three-year-old Harry. The book opens with Harry’s mother describing how her son disappeared. The descriptions of the clown gave me chills.

In one moment, America turns its attention on this
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: march-2017
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. From the very start I knew this was not going to be your average crime novel.

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
Sep 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
My mouth went dry, my heart missed a beat. Baby Harry was sleeping two floors below his mother's bedroom. Attached is a baby monitor and there's a small camera in Harry's bedroom. on checking the scan button on the camera in Jessica's bedroom she saw a shape of a man in her son's room. The man disguised himself wearing a clown mask. When Jessica reaches her son's room there was no clown and her son wasn't there. He was gone. Tall Oaks is a small town but with big secrets, that I loved reading al ...more
Deborah Bee
May 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Addictive. I was under my bed for most of it. First chapter a killer. Great book. And it's a debut. Looking forward to more. ...more
Lisa Hall
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.

I raced through this debut novel, unable to put it down. Set in small-town America and filled with some of the most exciting characters I have seen in fiction for ages, this is a intriguingly twisty story that will ne
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Chris Whitaker is the award-winning author of TALL OAKS, ALL THE WICKED GIRLS, and WE BEGIN AT THE END.

He lives in the UK with his wife and three children.

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“As he was walking out of the door he heard his sister’s washing machine stop spinning, mid-cycle, and then her sweet voice as she turned to their mother. “Fucking batteries have shit the bed.” Manny dropped the bucket and ran out the door before his mother could catch him.” 0 likes
“Jim turned back to the window. The organic store had opened up and he could see people through the window, sifting through dates, and chard, and handmade pies, scratching their heads as they tried to work out what the fuck was in the aloe cocktails that cost ten bucks a bottle.” 0 likes
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