Agatha Christie: The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-19-00-094 stars from me!

I’m going to start by saying that I am gutted for Sophie Hannah that this novel has such poor reviews on Amazon etc.

I can only assume the majority of the reviewers didn’t realise quite what they had in their hands.

I found The Monogram Murders to be every bit as comfortable as I had hoped. Yes, comfortable, like flicking through the TV channels on a Sunday and finding Midsumer Murders or Columbo and knowing that you are in for a few hours of gentle comforting entertainment.

I thought Hercule Poirot and his associates were beautifully captured and in my mind the homage to Agatha Christie was sensitively handled and I look forward to reading more in the new series.

Synopsis: ‘I’m a dead woman, or I shall be soon…’

Hercule Poirot’s quiet supper in a London coffeehouse is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered.  She is terrified – but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.

Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at a fashionable London Hotel have been murdered, and a cufflink has been placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim…

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Since the publication of her first novel in 1920, more than two billion copies of Agatha Christie’s books have been sold around the globe. Now, for the first time ever, the guardians of her legacy have approved a brand new novel featuring Dame Agatha’s most beloved creation, Hercule Poirot.

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Can’t Let Go by Jane Hill

Can't Let Go5 Stars from me!

I absolutely loved Can’t Let Go.

I’ve seen quite a few negative reviews for it and would have to say I think it’s a book best enjoyed by reading quickly over as few sittings as possible as that way you get fully engaged with the story.

I found Beth’s character utterly compelling and believable and I really enjoyed the quirks and traits of her personality. Her relationships within the book were great, maybe the situation with Danny was a little far fetched but I loved the budding friendship with Zoe.

I thought the sense of paranoia and the ever tightening fear were brilliantly executed – for me, this was psychological suspense at it’s best!

I saw some of the twists and turns coming but not others and I loved the way the book kept me guessing right the way through as it revealed little snippets about Lizzie/Beth and also about the other characters, with each new bit of information making you trust or distrust them more.

Don’t believe the negative reviews, if you like a well written book that will mess with your head then give it a go!

Synopsis: 

I’m watching you. I know everywhere you go.

When Beth Stephens opens the first mysterious note, she is terrified. Someone out there, someone who seems to be stalking her every footstep, has prised open the terrible secret she’s been hiding for over a decade. And he is threatening to exact revenge.

All these years, Beth has carefully built her life on a lie, kept to herself, been wary of close relationships and protective of her privacy. And now, just when she finally thinks herself safe, her days filled with new friendships, a boyfriend and a steady job as a teacher, everything starts to unravel. Suddenly, she can trust no one, seeing danger everywhere, and she realises that she has to find the stalker before he closes in on her …

The Cruellest Game by Hilary Bonner

The Cruellest Game

I’d give this 4.5 stars!

I’m never sure how complimentary it is to either author when a books says ‘If you like Sophie Hannah you’ll love this’ but I guess I get the point of it although personally it didn’t make me buy this book, I bought it because I thought it looked good.

Anyway. 4.5 stars from me – would’ve given it 5 except that I guessed whodunit!

This is one of those books that just gets under your skin and into your mind. It is an emotional read, one where you sit and ask yourself ‘how on earth would I cope with that?’.

The main character, Marion, is one hell of a strong woman, I’m pretty sure I’d have caved in given a mere fraction of what she endures. All the characters and their relationships are engaging and well woven throughout the book. The front cover takes on a new poignancy once you’ve read the book 😦

I asked Hilary on twitter what her first book was and if they need to be read in order, she replied:

Twitter convo

And yes, I am embarrassed that there was a typo in my tweet to her!

I can see why the comparison to Sophie Hannah was made as this story had that same insidious, paranoid feeling to it that some of hers have. It made me analyse every character within the book and their motivation for every action. Her relationship with her husband was interesting to say the least!

Overall a really great book that made me think. Would’ve got the full 5 stars if I hadn’t have guessed ‘whodunit’ and how.

To buy a copy of The Cruellest Game click here.

Synopsis: Marion Anderson lives the perfect life.
She has a beautiful home, a handsome and loving husband, and an intelligent and caring son.
But as easily as perfect lives are built, they can also be demolished. When tragedy strikes at the heart of her family, Marion finds herself in the middle of a nightmare, with no sign of waking-up.
The life she treasured is disintegrating before her very eyes, but it’s just the beginning of something much worse and altogether more deadly…

The Carrier by Sophie Hannah

The CarrierSynopsis: 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 discovers 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 to killing his wife 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 did it…

Another excellent book from Sophie Hannah.

I absolutely adore the way she writes the ‘human’ elements of her books. The passages of self contemplation and, often, self loathing undertaken by her characters really hits home. It’s incredibly easy to believe that these people are real.

How wonderful it would be to be as brilliant as Gaby; and yet those uber brain cells of hers seem to bring disappointment ever so easily to her door too.

I confessed to @SophieHannahCB1 that I quite loved both Tim and lead detective Simon Waterhouse and she was delighted! She has created two deep and wonderfully mysterious men, both romantic in non conventional ways.

Yes I’m still gutted that Waterhouse married Zailer and yes the whole Proust thing still niggles me, but none of that changes the fact that this is yet another very clever story line with well rounded and believable characters.

So then I confessed that I had an overwhelming urge to text the phone number mentioned within the story – in fact after a fair bit of egging on from other tweeters I did text it… ‘Hi Gaby x’ but sadly no one texted back. (Note to self, that could well be because you texted a fictional character!)

This is a very engaging book, the story line weaves over itself a little too much (in my view) in places but overall I thought it was really good even if there were times where I’m not quite sure that I kept up!

If you are thinking about reading this book, I would urge you to go back to the start and read Little Face then work your way through.

To buy The Carrier click here.

Lasting Damage by Sophie Hannah

Lasting DamageLASTING DAMAGE

by Sophie Hannah

The official blurb: Sophie’s sixth psychological crime novel to feature Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer.

It’s 1.15 a.m. Connie Bowskill should be asleep. Instead, she’s logging on to a property website in search of a particular house: 11 Bentley Grove, Cambridge. She knows it’s for sale; she saw the estate agent’s board in the front garden less than six hours ago.

Soon Connie is clicking on the ‘Virtual Tour’ button, keen to see the inside of 11 Bentley Grove and put her mind at rest once and for all. She finds herself looking at a scene from a nightmare: in the living room there’s a woman lying face down in a huge pool of blood. In shock, Connie wakes her husband Kit. But when Kit sits down at the computer to take a look, he sees no dead body, only a pristine beige carpet in a perfectly ordinary room…

——————————

I didn’t give the last Sophie Hannah book that I read a great review, so I am all the happier to say that this one was actually really good!

The Zailer/Waterhouse relationship side of the book was still weak however and I can’t help thinking that Sophie Hannah started something several books ago that she was then compelled to continue with; I wonder if she regrets it?

Putting that to one side, the storyline was excellent and forgiving a few elements that slightly stretch plausibility (but then don’t all books?) it was a really good and well put together story.

As ever, Sophie Hannah’s observational skills when it comes to recording relationships is simply excellent she manages to capture that familiarity of the routines that families have which are disliked by so many of the family yet which continue year after year, just because. The unspoken words between Connie, her sister and her parents are all there loud and clear.

There was one little thread through the story of which the purpose eluded me but that’s not to say that it spoilt the book. Maybe I’m just not on the right wavelength for these novels some of the time.

Sorry if this sounds like a negative review, I think my experience of the previous book has possibly prevented me from reviewing this book on an impartial basis; it had something to prove from page one!

For me, this was Sophie Hannah back on form and I would recommend it.

Kind Of Cruel by Sophie Hannah

Kind of CruelKind of Cruel

by Sophie Hannah

I’ve read and enjoyed other books by Sophie Hannah, starting with Little Face, so I really looked forward to reading this one.

I have to confess to finding that I have a few personality traits in common with Amber Hewerdine – although not overly sure I should admit that in public!

I am still in two minds as to whether I think the alternating view points throughout this book actually work;  in places I found it a little clumsy, almost as if the story was being explained in case I hadn’t quite understood it.

Having said that, I thought the main story was brilliant and I love Sophie Hannah’s writing style. I think the main police character, DC Simon Waterhouse, is perfect for this book and much like Gary Goodhew from Cambridge Blue he is a wonderful blend of humble, arrogant, simple and yet beautifully complex. I missed the usual sparring with his partner DS Charlie Zailer who seemed somewhat toned down in this book.

It contained a little too much unnecessary phsycobabble for my liking, yes some was relevant to the story but some seemed to have been dropped in almost as a case of ‘look I found this out during my research and don’t want to waste it so I’m sharing it with you’.

The story itself was very intriguing, especially as key elements of it were drip fed throughout the book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and found myself racing towards the end to find out if my theories were correct!

I would definitely recommend this to others – and would be very interested to hear what anyone else thought of the two different styles throughout the book.

A Room Swept White by Sophie Hannah

A Room Swept White

A Room Swept White

by Sophie Hannah

The synopsis: TV producer Fliss Benson receives an anonymous card at work. The card has sixteen numbers on it, arranged in four rows of four – numbers that mean nothing to her.

On the same day, Fliss finds out she’s going to be working on a documentary about miscarriages of justice involving cot-death mothers wrongly accused of murder. The documentary will focus on three women: Helen Yardley, Sarah Jaggard and Rachel Hines. All three women are now free, and the doctor who did her best to send them to prison for life, child protection zealot Dr Judith Duffy, is under investigation for misconduct. 

For reasons she has shared with nobody, this is the last project Fliss wants to be working on. And then Helen Yardley is found dead at her home, and in her pocket is a card with sixteen numbers on it, arranged in four rows of four . . .

I find Sophie Hannah to be an outstanding writer, her plots are often brave and touch upon subjects that most authors would leave well alone. A Room Swept White is a classic example of this as all the way through the book you have the much deeper unspoken subplot of whether or not you, the reader, believes that the three women killed their babies.

Sadly for me the book was lacking key characters to carry such an amazing storyline.

The Simon Waterhouse, Charlie Zailer and Proust relationship has become farcical. Such a shame as a few books back it was brilliant. Now Zailer is basically kept in a box until the author needs her for something, Waterhouse has become borderline psychotic but with none of the charisma which would normally accompany such a role and as for Proust, well, I’m a bit lost for words.

The worst thing for me was the way that the story seemed to jog along with lots of ‘is it this person, is it that person’ and then all of a sudden it felt as though the allocated number of words had been completed therefore, like a magician pulling a rabbit out from a tatty hat, the murderer is revealed and a few other loose ends are randomly and unbelievably tied up all in the space of about 4 pages.

Insulting.