In the last couple of years I’ve become a fan of Sophie Hannah’s writing.  She writes fast-paced, gritty police procedurals with dark psychological undertones.  In some ways, she reminds me of a British Kathy Reichs.  This installment of Zailer and Waterhouse’s casebook takes them to Cambridge.

The book’s main heroine, Connie, is suffering from a bout of insomnia.  She logs onto a real estate website and browses for “dream” homes in nearby Cambridge.  While looking at property photos, she sees one with a dead body splayed on the living room floor.  Shocked and discombobulated, she reloads the site, but the image is gone.  Thus begins a series of confusing events that causes Connie to question her sanity and identity.

Connie attempts to solve the unnerving incident, with help from a honeymooning Zailer and Waterhouse and a stateside officer Sam Kombothekra.  But even a close following of the clues does not give away the ultimate suspenseful ending.

New construction in Cambridge

Sophie Hannah switches between narrators and tenses.  Connie “speaks” in present tense  and often goes into stream of consciousness.

While Kit takes him upstairs, I pace up and down, picturing 11 Bentley Grove’s lounge, trying to uncover the missing detail.  The woman disappeared.  The blood disappeared.  And something else…

I’m so wrapped up in my thoughts that I don’t notice Kit had returned, and I jump when he says, ‘I know everyone hates estate agents, but you’ve taken it to a whole new level.  What you haven’t done is considered the why.  Why would some evil genius estate agent, sitting in his office in Cambridge, want to include an elusive dead woman complete with own pool of blood on the virtual tour of a house he’s trying to sell?  Is it, what a daring new marketing technique?  maybe you should see which agent the house is on with, ring up and ask them.’ ~Pg. 47

This sort of wandering inner thought that the reader is privy to adds suspense and allows the reader to quickly and strongly sympathize with the characters.  It also limits the readers understanding of what’s going on, which allows us to discover it as the characters do.  It’s an effective device and one that Hannah uses well.  This book in particular harkens back to elements Gaslight, which a film nerd like myself can’t help but giggle at with delight.  The plot is full of red herrings and, like much of Hannah’s work, is not a whodunit for the reader to figure out but rather a twisting tale to watch unfold.

Many thank to the folks at Penguin for the review copy.
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ISBN 9780143121510
Paperback
5.31 x 8.03in
464 pages
26 Jun 2012
Penguin | 18 – AND UP

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