A Room Swept White by Sophie Hannah
|A Room Swept White by Sophie Hannah|
|Reviewer: Madeline Wheatley|
|Summary: A Room Swept White is a vast jigsaw puzzle of a whodunit. The fifth in a series featuring Detectives Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer who are faced with a case centring on the emotive issue of cot death mothers wrongly accused of murder. You don't need to have read the other titles to try this one, but you may well want to read them next!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 464||Date: March 2010|
|Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton|
There's a classic Agatha Christie style hook at the start of this story. TV producer Fliss Benson receives a card with no message other than sixteen numbers arranged in four rows of four. On the same day Fliss takes over work on a documentary about cot death mothers and miscarriages of justice. Simultaneously, one of the mothers is found dead at her house with an identical numbered card in her pocket. Work out what the numbers mean and you will find the killer. But as this is a typically densely plotted Sophie Hannah story you will have to note every detail in every part of the book to reach the right conclusion. The plot has more twists than a spiral staircase, though there are clues that could help you, including one rather cheeky feature - if you can spot it. Sadly, I didn't until I was writing this review…
Families and relationships are central themes in Hannah's psychological thrillers. This book is no exception. The situation faced by the bereaved families is explored from all sides, as is the validity of the evidence provided by an expert witness. There are no clear cut judgements made on these complex issues and Hannah picks her way through the minefield of opinions on sudden infant death syndrome with care.
The story is told by a multitude of voices, switching between Fliss, the police, interviews, book extracts and newspaper articles. The varied narration adds pace and interest, keeping the reader guessing about the next twist in the tale. The range of viewpoints works because all Hannah's characters are engaging and strongly drawn. I wanted to know what happened to everyone! The rather arms length relationship between police officers Simon and Charlie continues to develop, and new characters such as Fliss spring off the page. Even characters with lesser parts to play, such as Tamsin, are well fleshed out. I loved her list of advice to Fliss warning her about her new boss, including this gem bear in mind that it's only because he's a man that he's got a reputation for being 'brilliant but difficult'. If he were an equally talented woman who behaved in exactly the same way, he'd be ridiculed as a mental old bat instead of head-hunted for all the best jobs. The more lightly drawn character of Fliss provides a good counterpoint for some of the more harrowing parts of the story.
A Room Swept White is an absorbing addition to a great series, and I recommend that any fans of murder mysteries try all five books. The greatest mystery to remain on finishing this title is why Hannah's four previous psychological thrillers haven't been turned into films or a successful TV series. I'd love to see Waterhouse and Zailer up there with Morse, Lynley, Havers and the rest.
Thank you to the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
Further reading suggestion: Try the first of the Inspector Lynley series by Elizabeth George A Great Deliverance.
You can read more book reviews or buy A Room Swept White by Sophie Hannah at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy A Room Swept White by Sophie Hannah at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.