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4.0 out of 5 starsA purported murder of a woman who is still alive puzzles the team
Reviewed in the United States on June 6, 2019
This is the 4th book in the Spilling CID series. The team are presented with a puzzling case from 2 different angles. Zailer is approached by a woman who tells her that her boyfriend has confessed to murder, but the woman that he has claimed to kill is someone she knows is still alive. On the other side, her fiance, Waterhouse, meets with the boyfriend, who admits that he has killed someone, but has no evidence of the crime, including the whereabouts of the body. What ensues is a twisted tale of unreliable narrators, convoluted truths, and complications that keep the two police officers in doubt and confusion, but convinced that there is something real behind the clouds of misleading information. The reader is gradually brought through to a startling conclusion.
Sophie Hannah is quickly becoming my favorite author. I am an American who tends to prefer books set in America. (It's the world I know.) But I look forward to reading everything this Brit writes. Sure, I had to google what a jumper is (a sweater, not a romper). But Sophie is so worth it! A lifelong mystery fan, I sometimes feel like I am reading the same book over and over. It is hard to surprise me anymore. But Ms Hannah does, every time, with her plot twists. Hers are the kind of books I find myself still thinking about days later. Who could ask for more?
This was not my favorite Sophie Hannah book, mostly because I wanted to slap most of the characters. They were so odd and clueless. But through that clueless filter, Ms Hannah was able to keep me guessing until the end, again.
I really had a difficult time setting this book aside! I stayed up much too late to finish it, and what made me feel completely silly for doing so, was that I had actually correctly guessed the plot's mysteries rather early on. So, it was hard to say just what it was that kept me so riveted to the pages. I did like the new characters introduced in this fourth installment of the series and the series regulars, Simon and Charlie, continued to frustrate with me their relationship. As of the moment, there is only one more book in the Spilling CID series, so I do hope that their relationship improves in it!
What does one look for in a British mystery novel? For me, it's a set of quirky and complex characters that stay with you a long time after you finish reading the book, a plot that offers exciting twists and turns on every page, and a dry sense of humor that enriches one's reading experience. Sophie Hannah's new installment in her Zailer/Waterhouse series has all that and more.
Sophie Hannah's books are not always equal in quality. I loved her
The Wrong Mother: A Novel
to be OK although not really gripping and was disappointed by the
which in places was graphic to the point of being traumatizing. I almost decided not to go back for more books in the Zailer/Waterhouse series as a result of this uneven quality of the author's writing. I'm very happy that I decided to give her mystery novels one more try and bought The Dead Lie Down.
From the very first pages, this book catches you in its grip and doesn't let you go until you are done. The characters are so weird and their relationships are so curiously dysfunctional that I was often reminded of the mysteries by the matchless Ruth Rendell, the true master of the psychological mystery genre from Britain. There is nothing boring, ordinary, or pedestrian in this novel. As an added bonus to the fascinating mystery and the engrossing relationships between characters, you get a glimpse of the art world in Britain, with its art fairs, quaint galleries, and strange personalities that inhabit this universe.
2.0 out of 5 starsTwo main characters so silly that it makes the book difficult to read and impossible to enjoy
Reviewed in the United States on December 24, 2012
Sophie Hannah can certainly write, very well, but I can't work out why she chose to depict her lead female detective, Charlie Zailer, as a neurotic who is totally obsessed with her colleague, Simon Waterhouse, who may be socially inept, but ultimately ends up being the stereotypical withholding, unattainable guy. Very annoying. And Charlie's inner dialogues are so very silly, so implausible, so inconsistent with her abilities at work. It's just too irritating to read her neurotic musings over and over again. And these two characters are engaged to be married, but have never made love? Ridiculous. I eventually had to skip whole chunks of text, whenever Charlie and Simon appeared on the page, which of course takes away a lot of the pleasure of reading a procedural, whodunnit detective story. I am upset that I bought all Sophie Hannah's books because I will not be reading the others I got ... unless Charlie and Simon are not in the story.
Sophie Hannah puts you on a spinning top, and you fly around with her detectives until everything slows, and you see how the landscape, although extremely odd, still makes sense.
In addition to the intricate plotting, I very much enjoy the developing relationship between Price and Waterhouse. I'm reading the books in order, and it's one of the oddest, and most interesting love stories I've come across in all my reading.
Sophie Hannah is the master of a creepy, suspenseful, police-procedural sociopathic criminal genre she may well have invented. I've never read anything quite like her books. I read The Other Mother and then started ordering everything all her other mysteries. Some were available on Kindle, some I had to wait to read until they came by mail so I read them out of order. If I had it to do over, I'd read Little Face first and then go forward, but they're all great reads and ultimately it doesn't matter if you start at the beginning or pick up in the middle. Charlie and Simon are fascinating no matter where you meat them.
4.0 out of 5 starsgreat story line, too many police characters
Reviewed in the United States on March 2, 2014
The story gets SO sidetracked with all the very boring police mini-dramas, not to mention the "lead" police character who is a bitter, mean- spirited woman to whom nobody could relate. But if you can skip through all those pages, the main story has enough twists and turns to keep your interest up until the final page.
3.0 out of 5 starsSlow to start, but bear with it...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 15, 2019
When someone confesses to a murder, but the so-called victim is alive and well, you’d expect a crime to turn-up sooner rather than later.
Unfortunately the wait is a little bit tedious due to the lack of sympathy I felt for the two characters central to the mystery: Aiden Seed and Ruth Bussey. Every time the narrative voice switched to Ruth’s, I fought off a frustrated sigh. I found her pathetic and bleak with nothing redeeming enough to bring me to care about her.
Having taken a break from the book for a few months, I was reluctant but glad I returned to it. Around a third of the way in, things started to connect and the brooding, sinister tension mounted enough for me to put up with Bussey.
3.0 out of 5 starsMy interest faded as the story progressed
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 12, 2015
The fourth book in the Culver Valley series. Initially I was drawn into the story of Ruth Bussey. I was intrigued as to where the story was going, why confess to a murder when the woman you supposedly killed was still alive.... but then the story became very slow and confusing and I was just reading a few pages at a time just to get to the end which was totally unbelievable. In some ways Charlie and Simon should have worked things out sooner but on other parts of the puzzle I am surprised they got there at all. (trying not to give the end away) I will read the next instalment. .
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 26, 2013
This book was incredibly disappointing. Having read SH's other books, I was hoping for something better. The story was just too confusing; there was absolutely no need for all of the twists - a few would have sufficed. The chapters were long and often filled with pointless dialogue or huge paragraphs that added nothing to the actual story. Towards the last few pages I zoned out and just had to put it down and admit defeat. A huge let down.