Monday 28 September 2015

Reviewing the Evidence Time Again, My Friends - The Telling Error by Sophie Hannah

Title: The Telling Error (US Link)
Author: Sophie Hannah
Genre: Crime
Series: Spilling CID/Culver Valley (#9)

A few starting notes:

I've read another of Sophie Hannah's Spilling/Culver Valley books - Kind of Cruel - which was equally absorbing, so knew what to expect in terms of style/genre. As far as I'm concerned, these books can be taken as stand-alone, although there is continuity through the members of the Spilling police department. I find it's not that difficult to keep track of the personal stuff because the main focus is the case featured in the book. Some people would understandably want to read the books in the right order - because some people are less governed by 'ooh shiny! Must read!' principles than I am.


Damon Blundy is dead. The list of suspects is huge. The circumstances are weird. DC Simon Waterhouse is working the case, and he doesn't like not knowing.

Nicki Clements is a housewife, two kids, husband, nice house. So, why did she pass Damon Blundy's house so many times that day? What's her connection to all of this?

Best bits:

Sophie Hannah knows how to write. Her characters are absorbing and intriguing, and are painted with the deft touches of someone who knows them inside and out. They are the normal-looking people, the people the neighbours would say, "Did you hear about so-and-so? Well, you'd never have thought!" They also all hide an edge of the sinister, the broken, the secret.

It's the secrets that wind themselves into everyday that govern the plot of this novel. And it's plotted very well. You can tell that Hannah has it all worked out from the start, and that she is just as interested as we are in the psychology, the motives, that lead to events. Layer by layer, Hannah peels away the secrets and lies - and everyone's got some here - to reveal just enough of the juicy stuff to keep you reading. Is it all relevant? No. But then, since when does any police investigation only find relevant evidence along the way?

Not so great bits:

There're things in this book that will upset some people - adultery, lies, secrets, emotional abuse, murder (obviously,) online trolls, suicide and some sexual activity with dubious consent. There's probably some more stuff too, so, basically, be aware that there's psychological trauma and sinister goings-on hiding in these pages - much like in Sophie Hannah's idyllic Culver Valley.

This is a personal preference - but I feel like we didn't get enough of the details of Nicki's childhood and teenage years, particularly since we get so much gravitas placed on it as explanation for Nicki's current behaviour. I would've liked more of an idea of the characters of her brother and parents, just to make it feel rounder. But, like I said, that's a matter of taste - it's just that, to me, the omission of this makes the book feel a little lopsided. I'm sure there are lots of people who would disagree.


This is clever, vivid, and absorbing. If crime and/or psychological motives are your thing, then I recommend you give this a try. I'll certainly be giving more of Sophie Hannah's books a whirl in future.

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