Woman with a Secret by Sophie Hannah
hardcover, 384 pages
Woman with a Secret by Sophie Hannah is a highly recommended
In this latest case featuring British police officers DC Simon
Waterhouse and his wife, DS Charlie Zailer, there has been a murder
of a well-known columnist on Elmhirst Road in Spilling. Damon Blundy
may have been well known, but he was also controversial and
combative. He was killed in a way that seemed to be sending a
symbolic message, but what could the message mean? And then there
are the actual words painted on the wall saying, "He is no less
dead." The list of enemies should be extensive, but the
investigation takes notice of one car, being driven by Nicki
Clements, a woman in her early forties who makes a U-turn to avoid
where the police are stopping every car up ahead.
Nicki, who is trying to run an errand to her children's school, sees
a cop she wants to avoid seeing again at all costs. The big question
is why? What secret is Nicki trying to hide? Because Nicki's erratic
behavior is captured on CCTV she is called in for questioning.
Clearly, when Nicki is answering questions, she is also trying to
cover up something. She has a secret, but does it have anything to
do with Blundy's murder?
As part of Nicki's secrets and lies are clear to the reader, the
question is how or if they are related to the case. We do know Nicki
has been going online and is conducting an affair, at this point
just through email, with "Gavin" after previously having another
affair with someone she met online.
Parts of this story are told through Nicki, her email correspondence
with Gavin, the police investigation, and Blundy's columns. It opens
with a personal ad placed on a dating site that invites speculation,
but is also deceptive. And that deception, the lies and secrets, are
what makes up a great deal of this novel and keeps you guessing what
is real and what isn't.
Hannah does an excellent job capturing the present world where we
are all online, social media abounds, CCTV surveillance is common,
and there are plenty of columnists that revel in being nasty and/or
combative as they name names and throw accusations. It seems that
everyone is striving to be more connected. She does an excellent job
depicting this world where we are either trying to stand out more
and set ourselves apart from the pack or we are conducting a secret
The real treat to this well written novel is Simon and Charlie.
Their complex relationship, interaction, and thought processes as
they work together are what kept me reading.
Nicki is an unreliable narrator as well as an unlikeable character.
In fact there are many unlikeable characters in this novel. So many
nasty people, with the exception of Simon and Charlie, could leave
you with no one to cheer for or at least hope it works out for them.
On the up side, though, it also provides plenty of suspects and
clues to follow in order to figure out who done it and why.
Disclosure: I received an advanced
reading copy of this book from the publisher and TLC for review
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