Hannah grabs the reader's attention right off the bat with the opening prologue - a ad on a 'personals' website - looking for a woman who wants to share her secret...."and then there's the sort of intimacy that involves two people sharing nothing more than a secret. An important secret that matters to both of them."...that then goes on to describe an unusual murder scene.
Nicki Clements is a woman with a lot of secrets - secrets she never wants to see the light of day. When a noted (and reviled) newspaper columnist is found murdered, Nicki is driving near the crime area. Her very attempt to avoid the police check in the neighbourhood brings her to the attention of Detective Chief Simon Waterhouse and his team. But Nicki is not the only person of interest.
Hannah provides the reader with a plethora of suspects, each with their own reason to want Damon Blundy dead. A number of Blundy's vitriolic columns are inserted between chapters. But, it is Nicki in the reader's forefront. She hints at her past, at events and happenings that only serve to keep the reader turning pages. " Being bad and getting away with it: there's not feeling like it." But is she telling us the truth? Nicki is a self proclaimed liar - always has been. (Unreliable narrators are all the rage these days.)
There are numerous characters to keep track of in the both the investigation and the investigators. I admit to feeling slightly overwhelmed with all of them and their personal histories. It was only after finishing the book that I discovered that this was the 9th book in the Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer series. I did quite like these two characters - and a few others in the department, but everyone else was quite despicable and ugly in nature.
Hannah is a clever, clever writer both in prose and plotting. Her character studies are quite fascinating. However, I must admit, by the final pages I just wanted to be finished - I had grown weary of all the convoluted machinations by every player. And there were a few loose ends not quite tied up. (Yes, I'm one of those people who wants everything and everyone accounted for by The End.)
Woman With A Secret was a middle of the road read for me. Not fantastic, but not terrible. Read an excerpt of Woman With A Secret.