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review 2017-06-03 13:53
Did You See Melody? - Sophie Hannah

Cara isn't pleased with her family's reaction to some news, so on a whim takes herself off to a very fancy, very expensive hotel/spa complex in Arizona, where she sees something she shouldn't have. This is a strange book where most of the characters behave oddly and are quite bizarre - would anyone go as far as Cara did just to think? Would the rest of them act like they did, no one being who they seemed to be? I did like the descriptions of the spa, but there were too many pages devoted to it and it did get a bit tedious when Bonnie Juno appeared - all those pages of transcript to get through. I enjoyed the last quarter, especially that twist. Could there be a follow up? Time will tell!

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review 2017-05-09 15:02
Mystery story about a murdered/missing girl - engaging and fascinating.
Did You See Melody? - Sophie Hannah

 

 

Cara abandons her family to go to a five-star Arizona resort to try to sort out her present predicament. There she stumbles upon a tale of a murdered girl, Melody of the title. Has she seen the girl - alive and well? Without giving too much away, the story involves kidnapping and the threat of violence.

 

The plot moves along well with character development at all stages. Definitely a thriller, this novel is an eye-opener as I have not read any of Sophie Hannah's work before. I found the book to be original, engaging and well-written but, on finishing it, I found the plot a bit too convoluted and hard to believe.

 

 

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review 2016-08-17 09:19
Closed Casket: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) - Sophie Hannah,Agatha Christie

Inspector Edward Catchpool has been summoned to the house of famous children’s novelist Lady Athelinda Playford’s home in Clonakilty, Cork. Also attending the gathering is the inimitable Hercule Poirot. But this is no ordinary gathering for Lady Athelinda has decided to change her will, disinheriting her two children and leaving her estate to someone who only has weeks to live. Poirot believes that he and Catchpool have been invited to prevent a murder. But why is Lady Athelinda determinded to provoke a possible killer? And when the murderer does strike can Poirot discover the motive behind Lady Playford’s actions regarding her will, and deduce who the killer is?

 

I’ll start out by saying that I haven’t read Sophie Hannah before, either her own creations or The Monogram Murders that first resurrected Poirot, so I went into the book with no expectations. Following in the footsteps of the doyenne  of crime fiction is always going to be difficult, perhaps more so, when you are already a highly regarded crime writer yourself.

 

It has been many, many years since I have read an Agatha Christie novel. I have, of course, watched various incarnations of her famous Belgian detective and these have somewhat skewed what I know to be my deep love of the written originals. I did try, however, to ensure this didn’t taint my thoughts regarding this book.

I felt that Poirot didn’t appear as much as I would have perhaps liked. He seemed more distant and often didn’t appear in the story for chapters at a time. Catchpool  features more heavily, understandable perhaps as he narrates the story.  I was soon transported back to the 1920s. The scenes where Poirot featured were treats, just perhaps not as generous as I would have liked. He was partly the Poirot that remains in my imagination, considered, cryptic and clever. I would have simply hoped for him to feature a little more so that his character didn’t appear as fleeting and sometimes lacking in dimension as I found him. As for Catchpool, I thoroughly enjoyed his character. He had a realistic and lovely relationship with Poirot, being both maddened by him and intrigued. There seemed a genuine fondness for his Belgian friend, together with the exasperation and feeling of being in Poirot’s wake that seems an inevitable part of knowing the detective. As for the other guests and residents of the house, many of them are not particularly likeable, with many far from hiding their frustrating character traits and in fact revelling in them. Even the butler Haddon is a contradiction to the usual butler, who has reached the stage where he would rather say nothing to any question, than provide the wrong answer. Some of the time I thought that I was not enjoying this story, as Poirot disappeared again, or one of the characters was being confusedly annoying. But then I realised I was actually enjoying the story, despite the issues I had with it. It was engaging and entertaining and the motive and dénouement was very well played out.

Part of the fun for me with crime fiction is trying to work out who committed the crime so I had a jolly old time discounting suspects and giving random motives to others as I read. I finally figured out the perpetrator about midway through the book. I could therefore sit back and enjoy Poirot exercise those famous grey cells to deduce why the dastardly deed had been committed and by whom. There was the inevitable gathering of the suspects, the circling of the room giving possible reasons why each character could be the murderer, then discounting them before moving on. This is the part where Poirot comes into his own, explaining his methodology, discussing the minutia of the case before the big reveal.

 

I was curious to see how someone follows in the footsteps of one the crime writing greats and now my curiosity has been sated. This was an enjoyable read, and it was lovely to re-engage with Poirot, in a new reimagined setting. Agatha Christie’s estate would only allow the return of the Belgian detective by someone with the suitable skill and flair to retain that character that is beloved by many. I think their faith in Sophie Hannah has been repaid in that she retains the spirit of Christie. She has certainly reignited my love of Christie’s work and made me want to go back and read her novels again. As for Sophie Hannah’s novels, now I’ve read one, I’ll have to try more of her books featuring her own characters in the future.

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review 2015-12-11 00:00
The Visitors Book: And Other Ghost Stories
The Visitors Book: And Other Ghost Stori... The Visitors Book: And Other Ghost Stories - Sophie Hannah Actual rating 3.5

Within these pages you will find four stories, each with a slightly supernatural twist.

Victoria Scase's boyfriend has a visitors book in his small apartment. A visitors book that bothers her on a level she can't quite understand, but which her boyfriend is challenging her to sign.
He doesn't sound angry. He sounds bored, as if it doesn't matter to him; he'd quite like to win the argument but he isn't emotionally invested in it. It makes me feel uneasy. So does the way he avoids my eye.
Jen notices a polite little boy has been left behind after her son Max's birthday party.
Parents began to ring the doorbell again. When they asked if I knew where their particular child was, I forced myself not to say, 'Oh, just take any. There are no individuals here. They've merged to form a rabble.'
Suzie starts seeing ghosts one day. But maybe they're not really ghosts, because other people seem to see them but be unafraid of them...
They cross the street. The hem of the ghost's coat touches my car as she passes. Neither woman looks at me through the windscreen; I only realise I was afraid they would - afraid she would - once it hasn't happened. 
And Mel finds a confidant on the edge of the school oval; another mother who hates the rest of the mothers as much as she does, a woman who talks about ghosts and encourages Mel to mess with the other women.
Julie sighs heavily. 'Don't be thick, Mel. With cremation, the ashes are scattered and that's it, job done. With burial, there's a grave to be visited and tended week after week, year after year. There's a ... a site that needs to be maintained.'
Did I hear a note of pride in Julie's voice? Is she actively looking forward to being a high-maintenance cadaver?


The rest of this review can be found HERE!
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review 2015-11-12 19:16
The Narrow Bed...Genius.
The Narrow Bed (Culver Valley Crime) - Sophie Hannah

First of all I really need to just point out how in awe I am of the devilishly devious, twistedly brilliant force of Sophie Hannah’s plotting. Like no other. Agatha Christie would have writers envy…

 

On the same point I have to say the “Whydunnit” in this is genuis and is quite simply my favourite whydunnit in the history of all whydunnits. I’m not sure Whydunnit is actually a word but if it is not it should be.

 

With “The Narrow Bed” we also get Simon Waterhouse – one of my favourite literary detectives and a character I adore, although if I had to actually live with him for more than 5 minutes it would probably be me under arrest for murder. He is and has been throughout the Culver Valley crime series a most fascinating character. Again like no other, his quirks and foibles are beyond enthralling, he is in fine form in this instalment and once more I found myself endlessly sympathising with poor Charlie. Although she chose to marry him…..

 

This time he is tracking a killer – one who targets best friends, killing them separately and leaving no clues. The police are stumped, the motive is as elusive as the killer and there seems no way forward. Then a witness appears who believes she may have been targeted..

 

And there you have the thing that changes “The Narrow Bed” from the usually sparkly storytelling you get in Ms Hannah’s writing to a full on firework display. Kim Tribbeck is an amazingly well drawn character and quite simply hilarious. A stroke of genius to make her an actual stand up comedian – I spent so much of this novel absolutely crying with laughter, pretty much from the very first page when she is talking fictional detectives..an ironically clever little part of the book which just sets you up perfectly for the rest.

 

The story has its addictive twists and turns, some more ongoing family and other drama from our usual criminally good main characters -and with the added joy of Kim’s inner monologue and outer often insightful interaction with Simon and Co, The Narrow Bed has now taken over from Hurting Distance as my favourite Sophie Hannah novel.

 

I just adore these. Really great writing, really great storytelling, totally addictive plots and a cast to die for. What’s not to love?

 

HIGHLY recommended

 

Happy Reading Folks!

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