Strengths: Taut and tense thriller
Weaknesses: Found it somewhat difficult to believe the murderer’s motive.
Why I read it: Loved Hurting Distance; bought in the Borders final sale.
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Rating: 9 out of 10
If you liked this, try: Hurting Distance by the same author
I really enjoyed the first Sophie Hannah book I read (Hurting Distance), so I was surprised to see so many of her books on Borders’ shelves during the last days of their closing down sale. Perhaps she isn’t as well known in Australia? (Perhaps that might explain why I bought another of her books for $5 at the $5 bookstall). I think she is really underrated here – she’s a first class thriller writer. Mystery, police, psychological drama and murders – she has it in one. Fans of Minette Walters or The Hand that Rocked the Cradle would enjoy her books.
Don’t be put off that the police characters (namely Charlie and Simon) are recurring. I’m reading the books completely out of order and it doesn’t matter at all. There was ‘something’ between them in the past (possibly even before the series started) and now we have missed opportunities and sexual tension. While you may be beginning to think ‘oh no here we go again’, that really isn’t the case. What makes Hannah’s books stand out is that the main characters of the books are victims or near victims. The police are secondary and are there so you know both sides of the story.
The majority of this story is told by Sally Thorning. Sally’s a harried mum with a job, a lovely husband and a messy house. The previous year, she was meant to attend a conference which was cancelled. So, instead of telling her family, she went to a hotel for a week of peace. There, she met Mark Bretherwick and had a dalliance with him. So when Mark’s wife and daughter are murdered, Sally is upset. But the man on the television report isn’t the man Sally knows. The only thing is, she can’t tell anyone what she knows without jeopardising her marriage…
The novel presents a very different view of motherhood from what is commonly portrayed in the media – we have the perfect mother, the busy mother and the uncaring mother all portrayed. It explores as much the psychological aspect of raising a child as it does the murders. Some may be offended at having to confront their own feelings about being a parent. (Perhaps this is why some have ranked this book poorly?) You certainly won’t guess the murderer beforehand! Hannah weaves red herrings, blind alleys and chance clues together skilfully so that you’ll stay up all night reading this. I’m looking forward to reading more of her books!
(Note that this book was also published under the title of The Wrong Mother).