Friday 22 December 2017

Review! - Did You See Melody? by Sophie Hannah

Did You See Melody? title image

flower image

Title: Did You See Melody?

Author: Sophie Hannah

Genre: contemporary, crime

Amazon: UK - USA

A few starting notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book via NetGalley. NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.

divider image

OK, so I tend to like Sophie Hannah books - they're full of the tensions and depths hiding behind ordinary, oh-so-British, small-town lives.

So when I got the opportunity to review this, I jumped on it!

I have to say though... this one didn't do it for me. Still, there were some good points, so let's get reviewing!


After a blazing row with the family, Cara Burrows needs some time away. So she packs everything up and heads to a random spa/hotel place in America.

It's not long before things get a little weird - an old lady says she's seen Melody Chapa, a girl who went missing, and who was presumed murdered, years before.

The thing is... Cara had never heard of Melody Chapa before coming on this trip. But she's sure that she's seen her too.

Best bits:

This definitely has the readability, and the 'just below the surface' stuff that I like in Sophie Hannah's books.

The insertion of interviews, articles, etc. from when Melody first went missing is great - you really get the impression of learning about these things as Cara does!

There are plenty of twists and turns from one suspect, or one suspected scenario, to another - and it does keep you guessing.

It also examines moral issues around leaving kids in particular situations etc. which was interesting.

Unfortunately, that's about all I can say about the good stuff.

Not so great bits:

corner image
Many potentially distressing content things here, so be aware of the following:

- missing children
- missing people
- child murder
- child abduction
- child neglect
- child abuse
- abduction
- violence
- trial by media
- wrongful imprisonment
- vigilantism

There's also some swearing.

divider image

OK, to me, this book missed the mark in a lot of ways.

Cara isn't that sympathetic a character, and Tarin Fry - who I guess we were supposed to like? - I actually hated.

Why did I hate Tarin? Because she hates everyone. She just likes to spew bigoted ideas here, there, and everywhere. From ableism to racism, she's your gal. *sighs*

So many 'jokes' and casual remarks missed the mark in this book - as an example:

Cara, Tarin, and Tarin's daughter whose name escapes me, are talking about a toy that belonged to Melody Chapa.

Cara thinks that the girl she saw had a toy that she called by the same name as Melody Chapa's toy, Snowy.

This results in them discussing how that's a name that a lot of kids would give a white toy.

One of them then asks what you would name a black toy.

Tarin's daughter - who is a teenager, not like, a five year old who's picked up adult's bad attitudes or anything - answers 'Nelson Mandela.'


I mean, really. REALLY?! That is a racist joke. It's not ok. Simple.

divider image

There were several other micro-aggressions and poorly framed characters/plot points related to race.

(E.g., one character's Latino ex-husband, one of the only instances of Latinx rep, is an abusive a**hole; the only black character is both inept at her job and makes sketchy decisions... *sighs*)

It disappoints me when a good author screws up this bad.

image divider

My other major issue with this book is the ableism - there's casual ableism against people with mental health problems, dementia, etc.

I have mental health problems, and actually, I'm rarely offended by casually ableist language ('crazy' etc.) though I totally get why other people are offended, but in this case? I was offended.

There was so much stigma against mental health problems here that yes, it offended me. There's only so much leeway I can give people, y'know? And this was more-or-less constant. #NotGood

Also hugely frustrating (and I'm going to have to be vague here to avoid spoilers) was the use of the 'fake disability' trope.

Like - WHY WOULD YOU USE THAT TROPE?! WHY?! Nothing good comes from that trope - it just adds to the impression that people with disability and serious illnesses are 'faking' - WHICH THEY ARE NOT.

image divider

Not only that, but the plot became messy as we went along. There was the impression here that Hannah wasn't really in control.

Honestly? If you want to read a missing-child crime novel which covers a lot of this ground - and in a more thorough and controlled way - read Gone Baby, Gone.

That book's not perfect; far from it - not least because Dennis Lehane is a white author who needs to stop using the 'n' word - but it handles things more competently than Did You See Melody? does.


I'm so disappointed. I usually love Sophie Hannah books - but this one just isn't there.

I'm sure in the future I'll read other books of hers, because I know she is capable of writing great books; but I'd be lying if I said that this one hasn't knocked my confidence in her.

I don't mean that in a personal way - you guys know that; on a personal level I have absolutely no problem with Sophie Hannah.

It's just, I was disappointed with this one, and especially with the problematic aspects within it.

flower divider

You can follow me on Twitter @CeeArrBookNerd, on Dora Reads @ BlogLovin, and on Google+. For more ways to support me, check out the Support Me page

Liked this post? Try these:


  1. I used to read a lot of nooks about child abduction and then after I became a mom they kinda of made me too anxious so thank you for listing the potentially distressing content!

    UGH 'fake disability'!!!!

    I suffer from fibromyalgia and people thinking that people fake serious illnesses drives me absolutely CRAZY!

  2. I’m sorry you found this disappointing Cee :( But it’s important to point out the problematic aspects. Any author should just be aware of how their book made their readers feel, good or bad!


Comments? I love comments! Talk to me nerdlets!