22 April 2013

Review: THE CARRIER, Sophie Hannah

  • Published by Hodder & Stoughton 2013
  • ISBN 978-0-340-98072-9
  • 419 pages
  • Source: my local library
Synopsis (Amazon)

When her plane is delayed overnight, Gaby Struthers finds herself forced to share a hotel room with a stranger: a terrified young woman named Lauren Cookson - but why is she scared of Gaby in particular? Lauren won't explain.

Instead, she blurts out something about an innocent man going to prison for a murder he didn't commit, and Gaby soon suspects that Lauren's presence on her flight can't be a coincidence. Because the murder victim is Francine Breary, the wife of the only man Gaby has ever truly loved.

Tim Breary has confessed, and even provided the police with evidence. The only thing he hasn't given them is a motive. He claims to have no idea why he murdered his wife . . .

My Take

What kept me reading THE CARRIER is that I wanted to find out who murdered Francine Breary but the path to resolution was a bit long and tortuous.

I haven't read anything by Sophie Hannah before and I thought that perhaps my struggle to understand parts of the novel, particularly the dynamics of the police investigating team, must be because it was part of a series.
But Fantastic Fiction lists THE CARRIER as a stand-alone, not part of the Spilling CID series. But there are obviously connections between this novel and that series. And Sophie Hannah, on her website, lists it as her "eighth psychological crime novel to feature Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer".

Tim Breary who claims to have murdered his bed-ridden and paralysed wife Francine by smothering her with a pillow refuses to give any motive for her murder. In the absence of an identified motive, Simon Waterhouse wonders if this means that the murder was a collective action by those living in the house. There are number of references to Agatha Christie's MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.

Gaby Struthers is travelling in Germany when she meets Lauren Cookson who had been employed as Francine's carer. Gaby's entanglement with Tim Breary took place many years earlier, before the stroke that left Francine paralysed. Until she meets Lauren, Gaby has no idea that Tim has been arrested for murder and that he is in gaol. She can't believe that Tim is a murderer.

The main story is told from a number of points of view including a series of letters written to Francine by various characters and "posted" under the immobile Francine's mattress. 

Other reviews of this book talk about the complexity of the plot, the exploration of psychological relationships between Tim and Francine and their other friends, and the way that Sophie Hannah makes the reader wait until the very end for the plot resolution. I certainly have to agree with most of them on these points but my problem is that I never really liked any of the characters, not even the police investigators. This tended to make reading the book, chosen by my face-to-face reading group, more a chore than a pleasure. And yet it is a book that has left me thinking.

My rating: 4.4

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1 comment:

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - I think Sophie Hannah is either one of those authors one really likes...or doesn't. I like her writing style but as to her plots and characters? Maybe not so much.

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