I most certainly enjoyed Sophie Hannah's Little Face, missed reading Hurting Distance and so pounced on her latest novel The Point of Rescue when I got my hands on a copy recently.
Sophie writes psychological suspense like no other, setting her novels amongst the bright young things of today. The two that I've read feature young mothers with babies and in The Point of Rescue a young mum holding down a high-powered job, ambitious for the family but struggling to keep head (and Venice as it happens) above water with the nursery run, the job, the shopping and a very laid back husband.
This isn't my lived territory any more, but it's territory I am very familiar with, or at least the trials and tribulations of the territory. I often arrange to see mums at their request on their way to drop babies off at nursery, before they start a day's work and so we book early morning appointments at 8.30am.
8.30 am's early for me now, but I'm acutely aware that for most of the mums (and it is mostly mums) half the day's already gone. They may well have done a good three hours stressful work by the time they arrive just to get out of the house, let alone the full day's work they have ahead. If they are coping with a sleepless toddler you just want to weep for them, but that is often the way of parenthood a la 2008.
So I was quickly into the step of Sally Thorning's frantic life as she spun all the plates on the poles, and who could blame her for continuing the pretence of a week away in a luxury hotel at a conference when in fact the conference had been cancelled ? It's but a small step into the arms of the mysterious Mark Bretherick and a brief moment of infidelity madness that she lives to rue.
When some time later Sally sees Mark Bretherick being interviewed on the television about the death of his wife and daughter, she is stunned. The facts are exactly as Mark had told her, wife Geraldine, daughter Lucy, the circumstances of the deaths gruesome, but this is not the Mark Bretherick she recognises.
This was a no-notes-no-underlinings read, I was glued to the action and just had to brace myself and live out the terror as things fall apart around Sally and her ever-so-scatty husband Nick and their uber-demanding two small children.
Sophie plots with complexity and writes with panache and you never quite know what's coming next, there are surprises around every corner, little and large moments of gasp as you turn the page as well as a rumbling on-off relationship between two of the investigating police officers. This grand affair flows through each novel so I've missed an instalment and I sensed it, so despite helpful hints I had to do some guessing and then concentrate hard or get left behind and I do think I missed tying up a few loose ends in the final chapters of the book, or perhaps they are left untied intentionally?
Plenty in here to disturb; the diary of a dissatisfied, unfulfilled mother relayed in instalments makes difficult reading, yet I was recognising the honesty of it all. I've worked with people who could have written that for real, it happens and it's tragic, so no shying away from the realities of life for Sophie Hannah.
This feels like young and very original psychological thriller writing and now I've picked up Novel About my Wife by Emily Perkins due for publication in May because I realise this is a genre that needs a permanent place on the Now Reading list. Fictional lives held in a state of electrifying tension offer incomparable reading and vast amounts of 'thank goodness that's not me' thinking.
Then I see that Jessica's re-opened The Book Bar,sloshing the drinks around again and you'll find a review of The Point of Rescue there from one of those very bright young things of today, as opposed to one old enough to be their mother, so go get all the goss there and far better refreshments than the pot of tea on offer here.