R. D. Ronald confesses to having spent time in various jobs throughout a career in business and then spent time in prison after turning to crime to pay the medical bills of his ailing wife. Work on his debut novel, The Elephant Tree was largely undertaken while he was inside. In his own words, “Being locked up 23 hours a day focuses the mind. I’d always loved reading and hoped to write a book one day, and you hear some crazy stories while in jail. In the end writing was an outlet, a way for me to keep my mind occupied.”


Sometimes truths are what we run from, and sometimes they are what we seek.

The Elephant Tree is a dynamic novel. This twisty piece of fiction introduces us to Scott, a young low-rung drug dealer trying to thrive rather than survive. When he has the opportunity to go from the small-time scene to a bigger, possibly riskier, endeavor, he goes for it. This decision eventually leads to some huge realizations that go back to his family history. His brother, Jack, who is a successful designer seems to have it all, but looks, as they say, can be deceptive at times. Angela, a one-time love of Scott’s, becomes involved with Jack and creates more than a little tension for these characters. Crimes are committed and the root of them may not be as obvious as one thinks. Meanwhile, a Detective Fallon tries to put together the pieces of this puzzle.

Ronald’s plot is clean, enthralling and extremely enjoyable, and his characters are hypnotic and spellbinding. The heart of The Elephant Tree is a murder mystery with an ending that many may not see coming. There is a lot of great psychological build-up that all comes to a head at the end. Every once in a while you need to broaden your horizons, and this is a great book to do just that. Ronald shows a unique intimate knowledge of the underground hierarchy and the inner monologues experienced by many of those involved, making this a provocative read, not just for crime fiction readers, but also for those interested in the shady world of real crime.

An excerpt from 'The Elephant Tree' by R.D. Ronald

The Elephant Tree is a well-written and original novel with an engrossing plot. Moreover, there is more depth to it than what might be apparent at first. Throughout, the novel challenges the reader’s sense of morality with shocking plot twists and vivid characters. There is just enough information for readers to glean when the book took place, but not enough to pin down exactly where the events were unfolding, which makes it all the more relatable.

The craggy lines that made up the character in his face now seemed like scars of defeat, inflicted on him over time.

There is some violence in the book but it is fairly mild overall. It gives an interesting insight into the life of a drug dealer. Whilst it is easy to judge someone already in that dubious line of work, this story, which is written from the other perspective, provides a refreshing experience.

On the downside, the book is a little disjointed in parts and some of the foreshadowing/set-up is slightly confusing. The blurb on the back is kind of misleading. It talks about a character that has maybe 5 pages’ worth of total involvement, as if he were the protagonist. Also, the author could have delved a bit deeper into the psyche of his characters to make the plot more three-dimensional.

Ameya Rating:

Overall, The Elephant Tree is a thrilling ride but not particularly dense or heady. It easily scores 3.8 out of 5, and narrates a breezy yet mind-expanding story that forces the readers to think out of the box. It is recommended to anyone who needs a break from monotonous crime thrillers.

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