The Carrier by Sophie Hannah

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The Carrier by Sophie Hannah

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: A murder mystery that only kicks in half way through but then makes up for time like a greyhound taking a while to spot the rabbit.
Buy? No Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: February 2013
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978- 0340980729

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Due to a delayed flight home, Gaby has to stay overnight in a German hotel with fellow passenger Lauren. During the night Lauren tells Gaby about a man charged with the murder of his paralysed wife. At this point two things strike Gaby: 1. Lauren believes him to be innocent. 2. He's Tim Breary, Gaby's former lover with whom she has unfinished business. Once home Gaby is determined to prove his innocence but that's easier said than done.

Author and poet Sophie Hannah is renowned for her two police heroes Zailer and Waterhouse. To date the books and two ITV dramas they've appeared in have created a phenomenon on the way. The fact seems to be that people can't agree on the author's best and not as best works. Some novels that are raved over by some fans while discarded totally by others. So, is The Carrier (the eighth Charlie Zailer/Simon Waterhouse novel) a return the novel to unite the followers? Well, the word on the street is once again 'marmite'.

The tone in The Carrier is summed up by a character as Love is a paradox. Should love be depended on and seen as a reason? In the case of this novel, there is little love lost between anyone so whether you enjoy it or not depends on whether disharmony intrigues or repels you. For me (and as discussed above, you may disagree completely) this is a book of two halves.

The first half is a plethora of anger, buzzing towards us like the former inhabitants of an over-turned beehive. Gaby begins the story as sarcastic and supercilious, Lauren snappy, Lauren's husband Jason is a thug, the murdered paralysed wife, Francine (whom we get to know in retrospect and via the opinion of others) seems awful. Tim didn't seem to like her from the beginning so why he married her becomes almost as big a centrepiece as whether or not he killed her.

The police are also suffering from problems that would sink the most robust of marriages. Zailer and Waterhouse are forever bickering, their colleague (a married father of twins) is preparing to read at the wedding of the woman with whom he's having an affair. Meanwhile at their superior’s house, Proust's family has problems with him. As the first half ended, I just wanted to bang heads together. But then something happens…

Almost exactly half way through the book a violent occurrence changes everything. Ok, not everything – everyone is still as nasty as they ever were. However, this ceases to matter as the adventure is cranked up a notch and the mystery takes over from the arguments and domestic unbliss. Suddenly I started to care about whether Tim could or couldn't have done it. I started thinking about the other inhabitants of his odd home (a single residence housing four suitably quirky couples) and the letters that are scattered among the chapters had my rapt attention. Action and twists appeared making sense of everything afterwards, if not before.

If we are going to be presented with a plethora of dysfunctional people, this is the sort of compensation that would have made the novel a page-turner from the beginning and would easily have added an extra star to this review. For me, the heat was welcome and good but turned on a little too late to want to buy it. Having said that, to me it's a novel well worth the borrowing for a second-half that will definitely intrigue and warm a winter's evening… or you may just decide otherwise.

If you want to try some more Sophie Hannah, we recommend A Room Swept White. If you've already been entranced by this, then we also recommend The Burning Air by Erin Kelly. We also enjoyed The Visitors Book by Sophie Hannah.

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Buy The Carrier by Sophie Hannah at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Carrier by Sophie Hannah at


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