2015: 12.-14.  Three By Sophie Hannah

"If you ask someone for a memory and they tell you a story, they're lying." 

The Telling Error, Sophie Hannah

Kind of Cruel, Sophie Hannah

These are two of Hannah's Zailer and Waterhouse mysteries.  As I thought I'd said before, but cannot find in my archives, I have such a strange relationship with Hannah's writing.  I love the mysteries she creates - by page 10 I'm always totally hooked by something - a strange phrase that turns out to be key (as in Kind of Cruel) or a totally bizarre murder scene (as in The Telling Error).  I find them almost unputdownable.   But on the other hand, I am always tremendously irritated by the characters in her books.  All of them seem to be totally bizarre and act nothing like normal people at all.  The protaganist of Kind of Cruel is some sort of weirdo perfectionist who can't stop telling it like it is, and acts like a total bizarre nut for the first half of the book.  And she's Donna Reed compared to the lead of The Telling Error, who is so crazy and obsessed with the secrets of her past that she barely passes for normal.  And of course, her detectives, Charlie and Simon, now married, but still as dysfunctional as ever.  I sometimes wonder if Sophie Hannah has ever met a normal (not a perfect, just an able to function in society) human being.  I get that the characters are more interesting because they are flawed, but they're not just flawed - they are super bizarre and odd.  But because the mysteries are so twisted and compelling, I keep going back for more, even as I roll my eyes at almost every character.  So if you like good mysteries, and don't mind too much about the quality of the people you're writing about, you'll like these.  But if you demand your mysteries to have relatable human characters, I'd look elsewhere.

"All's I'm saying is, I don't like her," the waitress with the flyaway hair whispered.

The Monogram Murders, Sophie Hannah

And then there is this.  Hannah was hired by the Christie estate to write a new Hercule Poirot novel.  If you ask me, Christie wrote enough that we don't need to be squeezing new stories from beyond the grave, but obviously there is gold in them thar hills, so here we are (and I'm no better than anyone else - I bought it!).  And the thing is, this book is a perfectly good mystery, and the characters are even normal and not berserk, so in that sense it's like, the best Hannah I've ever read.  Unfortunately, it's almost nothing like a Hercule Poirot book.  She tries, sure.  We get an obsession with order, and some other Poirot quirks, but it just doesn't feel like him.  And I kinda of got the sense from the introduction that Hannah didn't even grow up as a Christie fan.  Maybe I'm wrong and she has read Murder on the Orient Express 14 times, but it just didn't click.  Perfectly fine mystery, but doesn't scratch that Poirot itch.   (I'm not telling you the plot of any of theses, since that's the whole point of mystery novels!)

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017