Category: Authors F-J (By Surname)

Sophie Hannah – A Room Swept White [REVIEW]

Title: A Room Swept White

Author: Sophie Hannah

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 474

Rating: 4/5

I’m not too sure what I was expecting when I went into this one, but I’m pretty sure that what I got was very different to what the cover and title led me to believe. Not that I’m complaining.

The premise here is that a documentary is being made which follows the fortunes of a few different women who were convicted of murdering their babies and later found to be innocent. Suddenly, one of those women is murdered, and so our story begins.

We see developments through a few different pairs of eyes, including through the police force and through the eyes of the woman who finds herself directing the documentary after the previous director pretty much throws it into her lap. That in itself is kind of strange because it was basically his passion project.

The result is a murder mystery that’s also a police procedural novel and which has a little something extra, too. It’s a claustrophobic-feeling read with a lot to offer, from memorable characters to a plot that doesn’t give up and a weird little kid who’s obsessed with race horses and remembers seeing a man with a magic umbrella.

Sophie Hannah is pretty good at writing crime thrillers, and while this might not be as fast-paced and full of twists and turns as something like Gone Girl, that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. I’ve read at least a half dozen of Hannah’s books by this point and this is quite possibly my favourite of the lot.

Of course, by the very nature of the book, I can’t tell you too much without risking spoilers, but that’s okay. Even though I said it’s not as full of twists as some other thrillers, there’s still plenty there to keep you reading. I normally don’t try to figure out who the culprit is, preferring instead to allow the author to reveal that in their own time, but I couldn’t help myself with this one. And I still didn’t get it right.

The book’s title comes from a poem that plays a minor role in the plot, but it does a good enough job of things. I don’t know what I would have called it myself because it’s one of those books that covers a lot of ground and doesn’t really fit into a narrow little box. Or, if you’d prefer, it’s less of a room swept white and more of a house filled with colours.

Sophie Hannah isn’t for everyone, and I know that a few of my friends don’t get on with her, but I’ve enjoyed most of her books so far. I even gave this one to my girlfriend because she said it sounded interesting.

Learn more about A Room Swept White.

Paula Hawkins – A Slow Fire Burning [REVIEW]

Title: A Slow Fire Burning

Author: Paula Hawkins

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 384

Rating: 3.5/5

This is my second book by Paula Hawkins, because back in the day I read The Girl on the Train like everyone else on the planet. I wasn’t particularly taken with it, but that’s only because it felt a little derivative of all of the other thrillers that were coming out at the time.

This one is different, although it still follows all of the tropes that you’d expect from a thriller novel. And that’s just okay, because it does a good job of tapping into them to tell a decent story that will have you desperate to keep on reading.

Hawkins is a decent writer, and what she does well here is to create a bunch of believable characters and to experiment with the ways in which they interact with one another to tell a compelling tale of mystery and intrigue. It has elements of a classic whodunnit, as well as those touches of crime and thriller for us to enjoy.

I also liked that some of the action takes place on the water in canal boats, because I’ve always found them to be a fascinating lifestyle choice. I actually watch a half dozen narrowboaters on YouTube, and I’ve occasionally daydreamed about moving onto a narrowboat myself.

Then we have the fact that one of the characters is a writer, and that there are a bunch of literary references throughout the book. My edition even included some notes from Hawkins on a few of the books that she talked about.

When I read books like this, I tend not to think too much about who might have committed the crime, and that leaves me in a nice position where I can just enjoy the journey instead of having to worry too much about what’s going on.

That made for a cracking little read that definitely wasn’t a slow fire, although neither did it go up in such a blaze that it burned itself out. The pacing was great, the characterisation was top notch, and the mystery at its heart was plenty of fun, too. I’m not sure what more you could ask for from a thriller novel. Happy reading!

Learn more about A Slow Fire Burning.