A Room Swept White was gripping but flawed. I really enjoyed it but it’s worth mentioning that my boyfriend thought that it was (in his words) “quite bad” on a few counts. He disliked the characters intensely and, as I did felt that the ending wasn’t as twisty as with her other books. We both have quite high expectations of Hannah’s crime novels after I inducted him by practically forcing him to read the brilliant Little Face after totally loving it, so that probably doesn’t help. Arguably he’s a bit less forgiving than me! Lasting Damage though, is Sophie Hannah back on top form.
The blurb on the back told me that the mystery begins when a woman named Connie Bowskill logs on to a property website and looks at a virtual tour of a house in Cambridge. She’s confronted with a bloody mess – a woman, lying down in a pool of blood in the middle of the living room, yet when she goes to get her husband to see it, the tour has gone back to normal and the living room is neat, tidy and bloodless as you would expect.
From the first line, I was hooked:
“I’m going to be killed because of a family called the Gilpatricks.”
This, and the (real or imagined?) murder had my brain firing off questions all over the place, and the best thing was that unlike A Room Swept White, Hannah kept me hanging right until the end. Also, in the previous novel, the ending was a bit forced. Lasting Damage had a simpler but more surprising twist.
I am getting a little bored of the neuroses of Charlie Zailer and Simon Waterhouse – who, if you haven’t read any of Hannah’s novels are part of an ongoing plotline. I just kind of want to yell – “sort it out!” I do however, like the fact that Hannah is giving other characters on the police more time. A small part of the reason why I think I enjoy Hannah’s books so much is because of their setting and the funny little observations of people’s ‘Englishness’. I do sometimes wonder if this would translate to readers from overseas, but I suppose that you could say the same about American novels or Scandinavian crime fiction.
I would definitely recommend Sophie Hannah’s novels if you fancy a bit of crime fiction and need a change from being glued to CSI, NCIS or any of those other programs with acronyms for names! Start with Little Face if you haven’t read any before. If you have then I would definitely say that Lasting Damage is one to look forward to. I stayed up way too late finishing it as Hannah drip fed me clues, and delivered a typically twisted finale. Excellent stuff!