Wednesday, 23 May 2012

A Room Swept White by Sophie Hannah

Review by Maryom

In November 1996, Helen Yardley was convicted of killing her two baby sons. In February 2005, after a campaign led by journalist/TV producer Laurie Nattrass, her convictions were quashed and she was released. In October 2009 she's found murdered. Is there a connection?
Nattrass has spent years working on his campaign for the release of wrongly-convicted mothers, pointing the blame at expert witness Dr Judith Duffy, but just as Duffy is about to be 'struck off' and his documentary on miscarriages of justice coming together, he decides to dump everything onto relatively inexperienced Fliss Benson and is leaving the production company as soon as possible. Fliss has her own personal reasons for not wanting to work on the project but is left with little option other than to accept it. Meanwhile Fliss has received a very strange, anonymous card bearing sixteen numbers arranged in a 4 by 4 block - and nothing else! Is it a warning? or a clue?

A Room Swept White is the first Sophie Hannah thriller I've read, although I've seen the TV adaptation of The Point Of Rescue (Case Sensitive) twice, and spotting it at the library thought I'd give it a go. I'm happy to say it lived up to my expectations. Some of the police characters were familiar from TV - Charlie Zailer and Simon Waterhouse - and this story fleshed out their characters and ongoing relationship.

I've been exploring a lot of Nordic Noir in my crime reading recently and it's nice to discover equally brilliant British writing.  I'm not a fan of twisted, perverted killers who abuse and torture their victims, preferring nice, straightforward deaths even if the killer's mind is warped, so A Room Swept White suited me. The backstory is cleverly told through newspaper articles and interviews, filling the reader in on what has occurred while not halting the unfolding plot line. It's an intellectual puzzle of a tale rather than one of screeching police-car tyres and last minute chases across town - rather, I suppose, like a modern Agatha Christie.

Maryom's review - 4.5 stars
Publisher - Hodder and Stoughton

Genre - Adult crime thriller


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