Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hanging Hill - Mo Hayder

Have you read or heard of Mo Hayder? Well, if you're a thriller/mystery/crime addict, you'll want to look her up.

Hanging Hill is in set in England. In the prologue we're introduced to a pair of sisters - Zoe, always the strong, resilient one,  is a police Detective Inspector and Sally, the pretty, 'brainless' one is a struggling, divorced and now single mom. Until the funeral they're now attending - they haven't spoken in eighteen years. A childhood 'event' that spurred this rift is alluded to but not fully explained until later on.

From the opening prologue we go back to start on the events that lead to the funeral. Sally is working as a cleaner, trying to keep up with the bills and ensure that her teen daughter Millie can at least keep up the semblance of the life she used to lead. But when she borrows money from the wrong man, Sally is forced to take on an under the table job at one of her cleaning contracts - a man who produces pornography.

Zoe is on the case of a murdered teen. When the body is found and she begins to investigate, she finds that the girl was one of Millie's acquaintances. After so many years apart, the sister's lives begin to connect in ways on one could never have predicted. As do the dynamics of their relationship......

Oh, boy - Hayder is a master of plotting! Just when I thought I knew what was going to happen, she steers the story in a different direction. When I thought I knew who dunnit, my suppositions are changed in the next chapter.  And the ending! You know when you're at the movie theatre and you think it's over and then something terrifying jumps out at you? Yeah, well Hayder does it with the written word - really, really well.

"But their conversation about children had allowed something thin and cold and cunning to come in from the dark and slide silently between them,. She knew it, he knew it."

Hayder has a dark and devious mind. The crimes and the characters are gritty and disturbing. (not for squeamish readers) I enjoyed the personal story lines of Zoe and Sally and their evolvement as the stakes ratcheted up. I was a bit puzzled by Sally's boyfriend Steve. His mystery job and mystery trips are never fully explained. Is there more to be explored in further books? I would like to see these characters again - especially Zoe - she fits into the wounded female protagonist slot that is so hot right now.

Crime aficionados - you'll want to pick this one up. Read an excerpt of Hanging Hill. You can find Mo Hayder on Facebook.


Dorte H said...

I have only read one Mo Hayder, "Gone" - a terrific story. I suppose I´ll have to try some more :)

Luanne said...

She is definitely a seriously dark crime writer Dorte!