Tag Archives: Thriller

That Night. The Calls. The Guilt

“If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside – the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her… “

The latest book that I’ve read is titled “The Breakdown”. This is the second novel from France-based author B.A. Paris.

I was intrigued by the synopsis, as above, but it didn’t really prepare me for just how gripping the book was to become. The story’s narrator is the character of Cass Anderson – a teacher just starting her six-week summer break. She passes a seemingly broken-down car on a dark lane on her way home on late at night on the last day of term and sees a woman sitting inside it. The weather is awful and although she stops to see if the woman needs help when said woman gives no indication of needing any assistance Cass decides to drive on home to her husband, and puts it out of her mind.

When she hears the next day that a woman has been found dead in her car on that exact stretch of road she feels guilty for not stopping. As more details of the circumstances of the death and the identity of the dead woman – Jane Walters – emerge, Cass’s guilt only increases and it becomes an ever-present stress on her mind. However, that’s not the only breakdown that will trouble Cass as she notices that she appears to be becoming more and more forgetful, leading her to worry that she is suffering from early onset dementia – which her mother was diagnosed with in her mid-40s.

Husband Matthew does his best to reassure Cass but as her behaviour grows more erratic she naturally worries that she will eventually push him away. Luckily she can also rely on best friend Rachel for support and has the whole summer break to try to get her head straight again. But, of course, things aren’t what they seem at all…

B.A. Paris

Some reviews that I have seen complain that the answers in this particular puzzle were too obvious and too easy to figure out. I don’t agree although it’s certainly true that you know the who and why by about the 80% mark – but that’s because Paris has told us by then and she spends the final fifth of the novel filling in the blanks etc. as the tale reaches its conclusion (which I didn’t expect anymore than our narrator did).

I’ve not read the author’s debut novel “Behind Closed Doors”, which I believe is scheduled for the big screen treatment but I would definitely recommend “The Breakdown” for anyone that enjoys psychological crime thrillers and can see that it, too, would make for a good movie…

A Journey Paved In Blood

So the second movie mentioned at the start of my last rambling post about the Fifties film “Untamed Youth” was a new release. Directed by Brendan Muldowney (“Love Eternal”, “Savage”), “Pilgrimage” is a medieval period action thriller.

Tom Holland

As the film opens we are witness to a bound man being dragged by a group of men onto a beach in Colchis mid-first century AD and, having had a wooden crucifix torn from around his neck, being stoned to death. The time then switches to the time of the Crusades in the early 13th century and the location to the far West of Ireland where a small band of monks reside, including a novice monk named Brother Diarmuid (Tom Holland – “The Lost City Of Z”, “Edge Of Winter”).

Tom Holland & Stanley Weber

A white-robed Cistercian monk, Brother Geraldus (Stanley Weber – “Sword Of Vengeance”, “Not Another Happy Ending”), arrives with a message from the Pope that a religious relic held by the monks should be taken immediately to Rome as the belief is that it’s power will help the church in the crusades. The relic, it transpires, is a rock that was used in the aforementioned stoning of – we now learn – St. Matthias that God used to kill all those responsible.

John Lynch

Geraldus sets off with Diarmuid and a few other monks including Brothers Ciaran (John Lynch – “Alleycats”, “Detour”) and Cathal (Hugh O’Conor – “The Stag”, “Summer Of The Flying Saucer”) as well as an enigmatic mute (Jon Berthnal – “Sicario”, “The Ghost”) and soon meets up with a group of French soldiers led by Baron de Merville (Eric Godon – “In Bruges”, “Nothing Sacred”).

Hugh O’Conor, Stanley Weber, John Berthnal & Tom Holland

The Baron’s son Raymond De Merville (Richard Armitage – “Robin Hood”, “The Hobbit Trilogy”) and his men are to lead the monks to Waterford. On the way, however, a skirmish with native forces results in the monks being temporarily left to fend for themselves. Is everything and everyone what they seem and will the holy men manage to complete their pilgrimage with the relic intact?…

Eric Godon

This was a decent enough action flick. The fight scenes were often rather gruesome but I would imagine fairly authentic for the period and the setting certainly felt convincing enough. I think this was aided by the use of various languages throughout – specific to the background of the particular characters and enhanced by some very atmospheric music and cinematography.

Richard Armitage

I suspect that the historical aspects used are probably a combination of inspirations from actual history and a lot of imagined scenarios and this works really well. Armitage said in an interview that he hopes those watching the film “…are transported into a world and a time that feels very very alien to how we live now, but at the same time they can relate to the passions of these people centuries before, who are ultimately the same as we are now – full of ambition and full of rage and full of devout belief.” Well, for me there are most definitely echoes from this period of Christian history that reverberate all too strongly with current world events with people being tortured and killed for being the wrong religion or resisting that which is being forced upon them.

The Monks On Their Pilgrimage

Leaving such heavy thoughts aside and just looking at the movie as a piece of entertainment it’s generally very good. However, come the conclusion I did feel slightly cheated by the fact that we don’t get to really find out about the mute, we don’t know what happens next and Brother Diarmuid’s final action gives rise to the question “was it all worth it?”. Good question. I think so, but could understand if some viewers felt the opposite to be true…

What Makes A Killer?

“Lorna Belling, desperate to escape the marriage from hell, falls for the charms of another man who promises her the earth. But, as Lorna finds, life seldom follows the plans you’ve made. A chance photograph on a client’s mobile phone changes everything for her.

When the body of a woman is found in a bath in Brighton, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is called to the scene. At first it looks an open and shut case with a clear prime suspect. Then other scenarios begin to present themselves, each of them tantalisingly plausible, until, in a sudden turn of events, and to his utter disbelief, the case turns more sinister than Grace could ever have imagined…”

“Need You Dead”, the thirteenth entry in Peter James‘ police procedural series centred around Detective Superintendent Roy Grace and his team based in Brighton, finds the main man busy with case files for trials relating to Jodie Bentley and Dr. Edward Crisp – characters involved in the previous book “Love You Dead”.

On top of that Grace is having to arrange for his late first wife Sandy’s funeral (she committed suicide in Germany) and preparing for the ten-year old German son that he didn’t know existed, Bruno, to come and live with current wife Cleo, baby Noah and him in their quiet Sussex home.

Grace’s usual sidekick is away on holiday with his girlfriend so when a suspicious death – that of home-based hairdresser Lorna Belling – is referred to his team Grace decides to use acting DI Guy Batchelor to lead the investigation under his supervision.

The case is one that constantly shifts focus as the number of suspects increases – did Lorna kill herself? It’s possible but then her husband has a history of abusive behaviour. So does a man who wanted to buy Lorna’s car, and then there’s the man (or men?!) that she was having an affair with in an attempt to escape her marriage. So many possibilities and precious little clarity mean that the team struggle to make meaningful progress.

Peter James

I thought I’d figured it out soon after the half-way point, only to realise about three pages before James made the revelation that I’d fallen for one of his red herrings!…

Some reviewers have complained that the book is rather dry, with too much detail in the police procedures. Personally I find that this makes the whole story feel more authentic. I have previously written about my reservations over the Sandy storyline. Well, with her death that could have come to a conclusion, but the introduction of Bruno as a new part of Grace’s family means that effectively the remnants of Grace’s first marriage will stay with us as the series progresses. Whether that will be a positive or not remains to be seen.

In terms of this book I would say that although I enjoyed it immensely I can see that readers new to James and this series might have issues due to the number of references to past events. If you haven’t followed the series then you might find yourself rather puzzled over some of these.

For the future, there is presumably something to come from Grace’s nemesis ACC Cassian Pewe’s conversations in German with young Bruno, as well as from the suggestions that the boy may have mental health issues. No doubt James will expand on these as Grace’s adventures continue but, again, would mean little to anyone reading “Need You Dead” in isolation from previous stories.

I was slightly perplexed at the end of the book with – SPOILER ALERT – the  deadly spider crawling up Noah’s cot, as that plot element seemed to come from nowhere and just got left unresolved. Overall however I must say that this is yet another excellent novel from the very reliable Peter James. Most definitely recommended reading for lovers of great crime thriller fiction…

The Perfect Husband. The Perfect Stepson. The Perfect Lie?

“It took only six words to shatter her dreams.

When Rachel marries dark, handsome David, everything seems to fall into place. Swept from single life in London to the beautiful Carnhallow House in Cornwall, she gains wealth, love, and an affectionate stepson, Jamie.

But then Jamie’s behaviour changes, and Rachel’s perfect life begins to unravel. He makes disturbing predictions, claiming to be haunted by the spectre of his late mother – David’s previous wife. Is this Jamie’s way of punishing Rachel, or is he far more traumatised than she thought?

As Rachel starts digging into the past, she begins to grow suspicious of her husband. Why is he so reluctant to discuss Jamie’s outbursts? And what exactly happened to cause his ex-wife’s untimely death, less than two years ago? As summer slips away and December looms, Rachel begins to fear there might be truth in Jamie’s words:

‘You will be dead by Christmas.’…”

My most recent reading material was the psychological thriller “The Fire Child” by British author Sean Thomas. Thomas is a writer and journalist who writes religious / archaeological thrillers under the name Tom Knox, and “The Fire Child” is the second psychological novel that he has penned as S.K. Tremayne, the first being 2015’s “The Ice Twins”.

This book is set primarily in the western part of Cornwall, with a few scenes in London where the character of David Kerthen works as an expensive lawyer during the week. At weekends and in holidays he returns to his ancestral home of Carnhallow House, part of a large estate that includes a number of long since disused tin mines remaining from when the family owned and ran a very profitable mining business.

At home is David’s new wife Rachel, and his eight year old son Jamie. David’s first wife Nina died as a result of an accident in one of the mine shafts about a year and a half before the beginning of the story. Nina had been working on restoring the ancient house and former professional photographer Rachel finds herself taking on the task as well as doing her utmost to be the best stepmum to Jamie that she can be. Nonetheless this is a challenge as the child seems to be withdrawing into himself.

S.K. Tremayne

When one day Jamie tells Rachel that he believes that she’ll be dead by Christmas, which is just a few months away, this is just one of a number of strange conversations that she has had with him – and he seems to be convinced that Nina isn’t really dead too.

It’s clear that David knows more than he’s letting on and he is oddly adverse to getting any help for Jamie’s troubled state of mind. Meanwhile Rachel is harbouring secrets of her own and as the days tick by it becomes less clear just what is going on and who – if anyone – is the “bad guy”…

I did enjoy this novel, though with all the action centred in a small geographic area and around a very small cast of main players it did seem to perhaps be dragging things out a bit at times. That said, the sense of mental instability and impending madness was nicely handled and did keep the reader (this one, at least) guessing as to quite what was going on and where we would end up.

As the tale progressed I did feel that neither Rachel nor David were particularly nice individuals under the surface and that was borne out by various revelations, and it was unclear for a long time if this would turn out to be a kind of paranormal ghost story or what. I have to admit that some of the plot turns just seemed a bit too implausible for me in all honesty. All that said, however, “The Fire Child” was a decent enough read and one could do far worse than pick this one up…

Nothing, But Nothing, Is Left To The Imagination…

The latest old movie that I’ve come across here in the shadows is one with a bit of a chequered history. “Exposé” – also known as “House On Straw Hill” as well as “Trauma” – is a 1976 British horror thriller written and directed by James Kenelm Clarke (“Hardcore”, “Let’s Get Laid”) that was originally released in a heavily edited version before making it onto the list of banned “video nasties” in the early 80s.

Udo Kier

A writer, Paul Martin (Udo Kier – “Suspiria”, “My Own Private Idaho”), rents a cottage in the countryside in order to concentrate on finishing penning “Straw Summer” the follow-up to his successful debut novel.

Fiona Richmond

At the beginning of the film we see Paul and his girlfriend Suzanne (Fiona Richmond – “Not Tonight, Darling”, “Hardcore”) watching one of his own appearances on TV before heading off to the bedroom for a bit of one-on-one time. Things take an early turn for the decidedly weird here as Paul puts latex groves on while Suzanne slips out of her dress and keeps them on for their entire encounter – which is interrupted somewhat by Paul having visions and seemingly getting fixated by the windows!

Udo Kier & Linda Hayden

The following day Suzanne departs and Paul heads to the local railway station to meet a secretary, Linda Hindstatt (Linda Hayden – “The Blood On Satan’s Claw”, “Baby Love”), that he has hired to type up his manuscript as he dictates.

Vic Armstrong

Linda gets some hassle from a couple of local lads (Vic Armstrong (“Black Beauty”, “The Copter Kids” and Karl Howman “Brush Strokes, “The Long Good Friday”) outside the station, prompting Paul to give them a swift beating.

Karl Howman

Unbeknownst to Paul, and to the viewer, Linda has an ulterior motive for wanting to be there. Before that is revealed, however, we get to see her enjoying several sessions of self-love, managing to get rid of the housekeeper and getting raped at gunpoint by the aforementioned local youths in a field behind Paul’s house before taking bloody revenge on the pair.

LInda Hayden & Fiona Richmond

As if that wasn’t enough Linda also manages to have a tryst with the returning Suzanne and cause Paul to end up driving a car into a stream! Throughout the film Paul keeps having strange and unexplained visions, and spends a fair amount of time staring into space…

Udo Kier & Fiona Richmond

I wouldn’t say that this is a bad film exactly as it does have its moments. I can see why the censor had issues with the film when it was first released, with a large helping of sex and violence contained within (though this seems rather tame by today’s standards) but it struck me that if anything it should have been banned for some of the thespian qualities.

Elizabeth Berkley & Kyle MacLachlan In Showgirls

I gather that Richmond was something of a sex symbol in the 70s, appearing in a few X rated movies at the time, so it’s difficult to understand quite how the orange-hued lady gives such an over the top and almost hysterical performance, which is surely one of the least convincing portrayals of sexual coupling this side of Elizabeth Berkley’s infamous swimming pool turn with Kyle MacLachlan in “Showgirls”!

Linda Hayden

Hayden, meanwhile, turns in a decent enough performance as the mysterious Linda. It’s interesting that she has reportedly since said that she regrets making this film, especially as she later went on to take the role of the housekeeper in a 2010 remake of the film, re-titled “Stalker”, by Spandau Ballet man Martin Kemp.

Perhaps there are echoes of the 1971 movie “Straw Dogs”, but that is a far superior film in my view. Still, watching this one was certainly an experience!…

Sticks And Stones May Break Your Bones

“Corinne Woodrow was fifteen when she was convicted of the ritualistic murder of her classmate in a quaint seaside town. It was 1984, a year when teenagers ran wild, dressed in black, stayed out all night, and listened to music that terrified their parents. Rumours of Satanism surrounded Corinne and she was locked up indefinitely, a chilling reminder to the parents of Ernemouth to keep a watchful eye on their children.

Twenty years later, private investigator Sean Ward — whose promising career as a detective with the Metropolitan Police was cut short by a teenager with a gun — reopens the case after new forensic evidence suggests that Corinne didn’t act alone. His investigation uncovers a town full of secrets, and a community that has always looked after its own…”Just recently finished reading “Weirdo”, a novel by London-based author Cathi Unsworth. Unsworth began her career with music weekly Sounds and has subsequently worked on other music magazines including Uncut, Mojo and Melody Maker.

The reason that her music journalism background is relevant is that each chapter of the book is titled after a song from the early eighties, when the original action in the story takes place. It is 1984 and in Great Yarmouth (which has been re-christened as Ernemouth for the purposes of the book) where Corrine Woodrow, a fifteen year old schoolgirl from a very troubled background, finds herself caught up in a series of events that will lead to witchcraft and murder.

Cathi Unsworth

Interspersed with the original action is the 2003 re-investigation by ex-police officer Sean Ward into the crime and the various characters involved.

I don’t know Great Yarmouth, so really cannot comment on how accurate a picture the author paints of the less salubrious side of the town thirty-odd years ago but having been at secondary school in the early 80s I could certainly identify with the music and fashions, not to mention friendship issues, described for the then-teenagers in the novel.

As Ward digs deeper into the events of the past in Ernemouth we come across all manner of odd, dysfunctional and just plain nasty individuals that are somehow connected to the web of secrets that he needs to uncover to get to the truth.

This is a crime thriller that doesn’t have a great deal of lightness, and there is an awful lot going on within the community under the spotlight. Corruption, magic, politics, prostitution, music, art, fashion, relationships, family dynamics and pornography – not to mention murder and conspiracy! It is, however, very evocative of a time and place and makes for a great read…

Just Because You’re Invited, Doesn’t Mean You’re Welcome

The other night my better half and I watched “Get Out”, a horror / thriller movie from writer / director Jordan Peele in his directorial debut.

Daniel Kaluuya & Allison Williams

The film opens with a young black man walking down the street in the suburbs late one night, clearly slightly lost, and we see him get abducted by someone. The significance of this becomes apparent later in the movie. Next we meet black photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya – “Sicario”, “Johnny English Reborn”) and his white girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams – “Girls”, “College Musical”) as they discuss their imminent trip to spend the weekend at Rose’s parents house in the country.

Bradley Whitford & Catherine Keener

Chris has not yet met her parents but Rose assures him that even though they don’t know that he is black they are not racist and it will be a problem-free experience. Arriving at the house Chris is reassured to find that he is made to feel welcome my Rose’s parents – neurosurgeon Dean (Bradley Whitford – “Saving Mr. Banks”, “The Cabin In The Woods”) and hypnotherapist Missy (Catherine Keener – “The Interpreter”, “Into The Wild”) – though Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones – “Contraband”, “Antiviral”) seems a little intense.

Caleb Landry Jones

However it’s when Chris meets the Armitage’s black servants Walter (Marcus Henderson – “Whiplash”, “Halfway”) and Georgina (Betty Gabriel – “The Purge – Election Year”, “Experimenter”) that he begins to notice that things don’t seem quite right as their demeanour is decidedly odd.

Betty Gabriel & Marcus Henderson

An annual get together at the Armitage house is taking place that weekend too, and when the guests turn up Chris meets Logan King (Lakeith Stanfield – “Straight Outta Compton”, “Snowden”), another black man who behaves rather unusually.

Lakeith Stanfield

To say more about the plot would be something of a spoiler, so I’ll avoid doing so. What I will say, though, is that I thought that this was a really well handled movie that explored racism from ordinary middle-class white folk and from police officers (extremely topical, particularly, stateside of late) and manages to turn many typical horror movie conventions upside down whilst still remaining gripping and entertaining. Performance-wise, all the leads do a good job but Kaluuya is particularly effective and impressive in his role as Chris.

Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams & Jordan Peele

My wife did her regular media-stacking trick of reading up online about the film even as we watched it, so was able to tell me as the final credits rolled that the original ending was less upbeat than the final version, and although the planned version would have arguably have been more realistic and in keeping with the rest of the film I can understand the reasons for Peele making the change and think it means that the conclusion is an easier watch. Either way, however, this is a very good film that makes an uncomfortable subject matter accessible and gives the viewer plenty to think and talk about. Recommended viewing…

A House Full Of Secrets. A Life Full Of Lies

“When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds her mother missing, the house covered in blood. Everything points to murder, except for one thing: there’s no sign of the body.

London detective Maeve Kerrigan and the homicide team turn their attention to the neighbours. The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage daughter and Chloe Emery definitely have something to hide. Then there’s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighbourhood’s favourite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat, or is there more behind the charismatic façade?

As a body fails to materialise, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of testimonies and accusations. Who is lying, and who is not? And soon Maeve starts to realise that not only will the answer lead to Kate Emery, but more lives may hang in the balance…”

The latest book that I’ve read is “Let The Dead Speak”, by Irish author Jane Casey. It turns out that this is the seventh novel in a series centred around DC Maeve Kerrigan, a London-based police officer, now promoted to DS.

Not having read the previous six books I was oblivious to Kerrigan’s back-story, but although that meant that the reasons for her complicated work relationships were unclear it did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the tale.

Jane Casey

I tried to outline the story to my wife after finishing the book, and found it rather tricky. This is a book with multiple strands to the plot, with connections all over the place and I found myself having to keep going back to add in things that I’d missed because they didn’t become clear until the latter stages of the novel.

The story is told almost exclusively from the perspective of Kerrigan as she interviews various characters and gets stuck into the police investigation surrounding the disappearance of Kate Emery. There is plenty for her to get to grips with. There is a ready-made suspect living on the same road, in the shape of William Turner, a young man previously accused but not charged with a near-fatal stabbing. Across the road from Kate’s house lives Oliver Norris and his devoutly Christian family – wife Eleanor and daughter Bethany – who take 18-year-old Chloe in when her home becomes a crime scene, and Oliver’s sleazy brother Morgan. Then there’s Chloe’s dad and his new wife and her two teenage sons, not forgetting the head of their Modern Apostle Movement, Gareth Selhurst.

All of these characters have something for Maeve to uncover and it takes some unravelling I can tell you. The ending was a nice surprise twist, too, just when you think the final secret’s been let out!

Highly recommended for all lovers of crime fiction and police procedurals…

One Body. Six Victims. And A Detective Coming Apart At The Seams…

“A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together, nicknamed the ‘Ragdoll’ by the media.

Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.

The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.

With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?…”

“Ragdoll” is the first book in what I believe the author Daniel Cole intends to be a series featuring the character of police detective William Fawkes. According to a story in the Guardian last year, Bournemouth-based Cole was signed for a three book publishing and TV deal for the fledgling series – at which time the detective’s name appears to have been Nathan Wolfe. Now that the first book is out the Wolfe has become “Wolf” and is the nickname for the Fawkes character.

Wolf is a detective with a lot of baggage – more than your average crime fiction detective in fact. Said baggage includes his spell in a psychiatric hospital following a brutal attack, in court, on accused killer Naguib Khaled when a case falls apart. As well as this there is a complicated relationship with fellow police officer DS Emily Baxter and the existence of his TV journalist ex-wife Andrea.

When a stitched-together “Ragdoll” is discovered in a flat opposite the one in which Wolf now resides he finds himself on the case along with Baxter. When Andrea receives a list detailing the killer’s intended targets – as well as the dates on which they are to die – the investigation becomes increasingly personal.

Daniel Cole

Unfortunately Wolf doesn’t work well with the investigating team, preferring to work alone and keeping Baxter and her trainee partner Edmunds at arm’s length as much as possible.

Somehow, despite the police taking elaborate precautions, the killer manages to find his victims and dispatch them in a variety of ingenious ways. Who is this mysterious killer and where does he get his inside information from?

Although I found Wolf to be perhaps a little too larger than life I did enjoy the way the story and relationships between the main characters were portrayed. Cole has obviously got a great imagination when it comes to clever killings and did a very good job in plotting the whole tale so that you never really get a handle on what’s going on until the end.

The climax of the book does make me wonder quite how Cole will take the series forward with Wolf and Baxter in tandem but I look forward to finding out when the second book hits the shelves…

Best Friends For Life, And For Death…

“A killer that the police are calling ‘Billy Dead Mates’ is murdering pairs of best friends, one by one.

Before they die, each victim is given a small white book…

For months, detectives have failed to catch Billy, or work out what the white books mean. And then a woman, scared by what she’s seen on the news, comes forward.

Stand-up comedian Kim Tribbeck has one of Billy’s peculiar little books. A stranger gave it to her at a gig she did a year ago. Was he Billy, and does he want to kill her? Kim has no friends and trusts no one, so how – and why – could she possibly be Billy Dead Mates’ next target?…”

OK, where to start with this one? This is the tenth full novel in Sophie Hannah‘s “Culver Valley” series featuring police detectives Charlie Zailer and Simon Waterhouse and follows on from 2014’s ninth entry to the series, the excellent “The Telling Error”.

In the meantime, Zailer and Waterhouse appeared in Hannah’s Quick Reads novella “Pictures Or It Didn’t Happen” during 2015.

Published back in 2016, “The Narrow Bed” finds us back in full novel-length territory as we catch up with the two police officers, their colleagues and their caseload.

Sophie Hannah

This particular tale is told from a variety of angles. There are those of both Zailer and Waterhouse and they make their investigations – in Charlie’s case it’s largely to do with finding out what’s going on with her sister Liv and her supposed ex Gibbs, whilst Simon is involved with the “Billy Dead Mates” case. In addition, there are chapters told from the perspective of Kim Tribbeck who may be a target for the killer, extracts from Kim’s to-be-published autobiography which looks back at the case, and various blog posts, emails and letters from other characters. Whilst this may seem, on the surface, to be confusing the author has done a very good job of making the tale easy to keep up with, without giving away any more clues than she wants to.

There is a quote from one of the book’s characters where they say “books are everywhere in this investigation” and that is very true. Whether it be the small white books given to the murder victims, Waterhouse’s dog-eared but beloved copy of “Moby Dick” or Tribbeck’s own book there are indeed plenty of books littered throughout the story, and they play a part in the motivation of the mysterious killer too. And that latter point is perhaps where I felt this book fell down slightly, as the rationale for the baddie to be killing the pairs of friends etc. just didn’t come across as convincing or likely – even allowing for some mental instability. That said, however, there is certainly some food for thought in terms of the advantages / disadvantages that come with the never-ending march of technological progress.

Not her strongest novel, then, but as always Hannah’s writing is clever, witty and insightful and her characters get plenty of room to develop. Whilst Waterhouse is always one step – at least – ahead of his wife and colleagues in determining what’s going on, most readers don’t have his unnatural abilities and so the secrets are kept back until the author wants us to uncover them, making this a jolly good read…