Sophie Hannah’s psychological thrillers (published by Hodder & Stoughton) featuring Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer are far and away my favourite novels in this genre at the moment. I actually got interested in this author after reading her book of short stories
, which appealed to my own very nosy nature and then her first thriller, Little Face (2006) got me hooked, from the minute I read the blurb on the back. Then I couldn’t wait to read The Point of Rescue (2007) and Hurting Distance (2008) as well, albeit in the wrong order!
The storyline in Hurting Distance centres around Naomi Jenkins, a self employed sundial maker. Just as with the other books it is set around the fictional and utterly English-sounding towns of Rawndesley and Spilling. Naomi has a dark secret from her past, a terrifying ordeal that has affected her ever since. An (unsurprisingly) brittle character who doesn’t shirk at confrontation she becomes involved with the police after her lover Robert goes missing. Although Robert has vanished, his wife insists that he is not missing and in desperation Naomi decides to convince the police that he is dangerous so that they will have to look for him.
This book also picks up the thread of the complicated relationship between Sergeant Zailer and Detective Waterhouse. Both characters are at times likeable and annoying (which makes them very human) and add an interesting link between the novels.
The plot of this book is particularly dark and Hannah’s technique of writing from inside the protagonists head in some chapters is a great way of getting the reader involved and also in exploring the psychology of the character. I was totally gripped as the plot unravelled, and liked the fact that you can plausibly make guesses as to the culprit is in this but you are on tenterhooks to find out the full story.
I like the fact that Hannah has brought out a new book each year for the last 4 years and am looking forward to getting my hands on her latest – The Other Half Lives (2009) currently available from Amazon in hardback, although I’ll be waiting for the paperback.
Also, having just looked at Sophie Hannah’s website, I was delighted to read that her crime novels are being adapted for television at the moment. So I will be looking forward to those with anticipation!