The Tree of Hands is a 1984 suspense novel by the author Ruth Rendell. It won the CWA Silver Dagger in 1984, and was short listed for the MWA Edgar Award upon publication in America. The book has been filmed twice. One adaptation featured Lauren Bacall as the protagonist's mother.
The Tree of Hands tells the story of an affluent young woman, Benet, who has a two year old son named James. She is estranged from James' father. They live in North London. Benet's mother comes to visit them. She and Benet's father now live in Spain. Benet's mother has a history of mental illness, possibly schizophrenia, and Benet is rather fearful of her mother and what she may be capable of doing.
Unfortunately James becomes extremely ill and dies, Benet is distraught and spends a lot of time in a state of prostrated grief. Her mother tries to look after her. A sub-plot involves a young man on a council estate who is deeply in love with a woman, Carol, who has several children from previous partners. It becomes apparent to the reader that she is unfaithful to this young man, and she is abusing her children, in particular her little boy, Jason. A turn in events leads to Benet's mother kidnapping little...