Friday, September 3, 2010

A Room Swept White - Sophie Hannah

I loved this cover - simple, plain yet the red balloon hints at something dark....

Canadian readers will be nodding their heads at Sophie Hannah's plotline, as it eerily mirrors recent headlines.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Judith Duffy testified in many cases of SIDS or crib death, indicating that the death was not unexplained and the mothers had in fact murdered their children. Many cases are appealed and the women are released when it is found that Duffy's testimony is suspect and her expertise 'flawed'. Fliss Benson is a film journalist documenting the whole affair.

One of the released mothers - the most vocal and outspoken - is found shot to death. A mysterious card with a set of  16 numbers is left with her body. Fliss also receives one of the cards in the mail. What do the cards mean? Is Fliss a target? What about the other released women?

Sophie Hannah has crafted an incredibly detailed plot with tendrils reaching in many directions. Following the one you think might lead to a solution often leads not to a solution, but to more subtly dropped clues. It wasn't until the last chapters that I had a firm grasp on 'whodunit.'

Fliss was an unusual protagonist. She's a study in opposites - strong and forceful one minute, unsure of herself and her talents the next. There are hints to something in her past that again slowly eked out until their relevance to the case are revealed. I found her internal dialogues quite funny.

I wasn't aware that this was a series when I first started reading. The police team charged with investigating the case are recurring characters. I did feel a little out of the loop as there were references to the past. It looks as if  there will be another in the series - some of the personal plot lines were left unfinished. I really liked the young female constable Charlie. Her relationship with the somewhat odd, but highly intelligent Simon seems to have provided much fodder for the subplots in previous books.

The case and the crime are discussed in many different voices - journalist, filmmaker, victims, lawyers, police, witnesses and family - providing contrasting viewpoints on the same incident and offering lots of food for thought.

A British author new to me and one I will read again. Have a look for yourself - read an excerpt of A Room Swept White.


Mystica said...

I've heard of Sophie Hannah recently quite a bit. This sounds very good.

Anonymous said...

I'm interested in reading Sophie Hannah's books. The covers are usually very simple, yet striking. Thanks for sharing about this new one.

bermudaonion said...

I love the cover too, so I'm glad to see the book is good!

Ladytink_534 said...

That cover always reminds me of the Sixth Sense movie.

Dorte H said...

I really liked her debut, but somehow no 2 and 3 seem to have get stuck on the shelf. I will get to her, though, but there are so many good books.

Unknown said...

I'm reading Sophie Hannah's "The Dead Lie Down" right now. It's long, but good.

AA said...

yes! thank you! i love books like these (i just finished "in cold blood" by truman capote & am having this "detective" phase). haha. i'll check it out!

check mine?: