I have read all Sophie Hannah’s books and having turned the final page I’m left with the feeling that I’m not clever enough to have ‘got it’ for this one.
Tim Breary is in prison for killing his wife, an invalid who is confined to bed and silence due to a stroke, but he won’t give the local police; Simon Waterhouse, Sam, Charlie, Proust etc. a reason why. As always these characters from the series have their own hang-ups and point scoring to be getting on with alongside solving the mystery. To add to these characters we have a household all backing Tim Breary’s account of the murder including the care assistant Lauren.
Sophie Hannah creates excellent puzzles and the main reason for not awarding this book less than 3 stars is that the interplay and teasing out of human behaviour is fantastic, she is clearly fascinated by the human psyche. There are some truly horrible characters but sadly I have come across the aspects of behaviour that make them so appalling. This is what the author convey so well in my opinion. On the whole we manage difficult people we meet to minimise offence while she gives us a glimpse of what the long-term effect can be. The large amount of poetry used to tell the story has detracted from my enjoyment as it isn’t something that appeals to me and has contributed to the feeling that I have missed something important.
The characterisation was good, the observations wonderful, as always, I just wish that having read the whole book that parts which were emphasised throughout the book were never properly explained, or if they were they clearly passed me by. On reflection the whole series of Sophie Hannah’s books seem to appeal to different people, I loved Kind of Cruel but didn’t really take to A Room Swept White so I will continue to read what she offers whilst keeping my expectations of enjoyment in check.
I received this book through Amazon Vine. I’m slightly upset that my reading year has started on a disappointing note but hopefully it will pick up soon.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have read each and every one of Sophie Hannah’s six previous books and had this one on pre-order, something I never do. The story is laid out over a matter of two years but many of the events discussed had already happened. The narrator is a hypnotherapist who explains that memory is different to the stories we tell to make fragmented memories whole. Ususally I find devices like this, at best, slightly annoying. In this book I found the therapist’s words interesting, giving real insight into the character’s lives. The therapist is trying to help Amber Hewerdine with her insomnia, Amber Hewerdine wants to know why her sister-in-law disappeared over Christmas Day years previously.
This book is superb, it has every element that creates a good psychological thriller. There is a cast of believable characters,including the ongoing back story of Simon and Charlie Waterhouse along with the truly awful boss Proust. The mystery has twists and turns right up to the end. Although the motive was unlikely, it was not so off the wall that I felt let down, the whole story was pure enjoyment.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book focusses on mothers who have been convicted of killing their babies. Sophie Hannah mixes in a puzzle and a murder or two producing both variety and interest for the reader. The only thing that lets this book down is that the characters weren’t likeable and so unlike some books (including her previous ones) I could put the book down.
I felt the second half of the book was much better than the first but as other reviewers have noted many of the themes weren’t followed through to any sort of conclusion. That said I’m glad I bought this one.
- Caper stories and mysteries for the beach or backyard (seattletimes.com)