Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2016, Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Narrow Bed – Sophie Hannah #20booksofsummer

Book 13

Crime Thriller 5*s
Crime Thriller

The one thing that can’t be disputed about Sophie Hannah’s books is that they are all a unique reading experience; The Narrow Bed does not break this tradition. So much so that it is often hard to articulate exactly what the book is about but I’ll give it my best shot!

Two pairs of best friends have been killed and the Culver Valley are investigating alongside other police forces to identify the perpetrator. So far so simple, the police have helpfully provided the press with a catchy name to keep the crimes in the news and to gain intelligence from the public ‘Billy Dead Mates’ makes his way into everyone’s homes especially when ardent feminist Sondra Halliday choses this subject to rail against misogyny, despite one of the victims being male. Sophie Hannah is a genius at picking out the nonsense that seems to prevail and takes it one infinitesimal step further to allow us to laugh at ourselves and each other with the absurd truth of on-line news forums for one.

This book, like a few of the others in this series, has a strong literary leaning most obviously with the little white books delivered to each victim a few weeks before they are killed. These books all contain a single line of poetry but no-one can fit the puzzle together and work out what it means. Well of course readers of this series know that Simon Waterhouse, the genius detective will, at some point, but will he be quick enough to prevent any further murders? The biggest mystery of all as usual though, is whether Simon will let his detective wife, Charley Zailer in on any of his mental gymnastics.

The difference in this series is that the personal details are kept to a minimum so each of the books will work perfectly well as a stand-alone read although we do get a snapshot into the current state of affairs through her sister’s Charley’s eyes of Livvy’s ongoing complex life.

This really is a proper murder mystery albeit with extremely obscure clues and broken up by newspaper articles and letters, and of course the literary references including excerpts from the book, Origami, written by one of the main players, the stand-up comedian Kim Tribbeck. All of this adds to the sheer enjoyment in reading the book which at times diverts into blind-alley’s without ever losing the overall plotline. I never think for a second that I am going to work out who the killer is in Sophie Hannah’s books but in this instance I formed an opinion, that was right but I was way off with the motive which was an absolute delight.

If you haven’t already guessed, I’m a fan of Sophie Hannah’s for a number of reasons but none of those would count if she didn’t have the dexterity of language, the well thought out plots and her characterisation which despite bordering on the bizarre, are such a pleasure to learn about. The numerous sub-plots and backstories all lend texture and contrast to the story.

Culver Valley Series
1. Little Face
2. Hurting Distance
3. The Point of Rescue
4. The Other Half Lives
5. A Room Swept White
6. Lasting Damage
7. A Kind of Cruel
8. The Carrier
9. The Telling Error

Standalone Books

A Game for all the Family

First Published UK: 11 February 2016
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
No of Pages 416
Genre: Crime Thriller (series)
Amazon UK
Amazon US


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

36 thoughts on “The Narrow Bed – Sophie Hannah #20booksofsummer

  1. I really disliked this novel which is a shame as i loved A Game For All The Family, i had previously read one of the other novels in this series which was a 3 star read for me so probably should have realised that her crime series was not one for me. One of the first books I’ve had to inform a publisher that I could not have on my blog. x


  2. I still have this to read! In fact I have Sarah Hardys copy that she brought to a book swap but also want to read a Game for All the Family first even though it’s not part of the Culver Valley series xx


  3. Oh, this does sound like an unusual sort of book, Cleo. And as you say, whatever you think of Sophie Hannah, she certainly does add innovations and try new things when she writes. The mystery itself sounds interesting, too. I’m glad you liked it so well.


    1. I am a fan as I do enjoy her innovative style but I haven’t enjoyed all her books because she’s sometimes too clever for this reader – this one had me buying into some of the more experimental aspects such as modern day fables.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sounds interesting. I read the first few Culver Valley books – I absolutely loved Little Face – then fell out of the way of them a bit. There’s something definitely out of the ordinary about Sophie Hannah’s books though – maybe this is the one to draw me back in!


    1. I enjoyed some far more than others but now I’ve learnt to expect the unexpected, and sometimes that means a story just isn’t for me – her standalone A Game for all the Family was an amazing read as a way to rediscover her.


  5. I tried a couple by Sophie Hannah (after hearing such great things) and I was disappointed both times. Now I’m reluctant to try again even though this one sounds good.


  6. I have read most of the books on your list, except A Game for All the Family, The Point of Rescue, The Other Half Lives and The Telling Error. Well, maybe not “most” of the books, then. LOL

    I get confused with the titles, though, as sometimes they have different names, like Hurting Distance was The Truth-Teller’s Lie when I read it.

    But I’m always eager to pick up one of her books. Thanks for the review, and The Narrow Bed looks like one I’d enjoy..


    1. Oh yes, I find it so confusing with the different titles!! A Game for All the Family was wonderful and I thoroughly recommend it – this one you’re bound to enjoy if you enjoy her writing as it is perfect for book lovers.


  7. Great review as always! I’m afraid I still haven’t forgiven her for Poirot, and now she’s doing it again, I’ve had to put forgiveness on hold! But maybe one day I’ll get around to trying her when she’s writing her “own” books…


        1. Oh do review it FF, I love it when you hate and slate a book! I was a huge fan of the firsdt few books but they are incredibly variable in quality now – I agree with Sarah that The Carrier was quite dreadful. They all stretch the bounds of credibility to a huge extent – Kind of Cruel was the same but it wasn’t too bad a read all in. I think she can be almost too clever, sometimes. And Simon can be irritating with his lone erratic genius role. I’ll keep reading her books though, no doubt – yet to get to this one, when I used to read them as soon as they came out! She was really good speaking at Bloody Scotland last year, very amusing.


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