Saturday, 12 March 2016

Hurting Distance by Sophie Hannah

Sophie Hannah is the goods when it comes to psychological crime drama, and with cops like DS Charlie Zailer and DC Simon Waterhouse, there is plenty of emotional baggage on offer as well. They also make a brilliant crime-fighting team - Charlie with her intuitive way with witnesses and Simon with his logical brain and eye for detail.

In Hurting Distance, sundial designer Naomi is worried about Robert Haworth, her married lover. He has missed their weekly rendezvous at the Traveltel, always Room 11. She is so convinced he is in danger that she tells the police that Haworth raped her – the only way she can get them to investigate. On revisiting his house, Waterhouse discovers Haworth close to death in an upstairs room, his wife Juliet apparently unconcerned.

A website offering rape victims a chance to share their experiences and offer solidarity reveals that several women have had a similar experience to the one Naomi describes in her police statement, with a particularly horrifying and callous MO. Suddenly the police are investigating not only an attempted murder, but hunting for a serial rapist as well.

The story weaves between the Zailer/Waterhouse investigation and Naomi’s story, which is written as if she is talking to Haworth, who for most of the book is in a coma in hospital. There’s a ton of sexual tension running between Zailer and Waterhouse, Charlie with a tendency to throw herself at men and regret it later, while Simon is too buttoned up to show his feelings. This is a back story that appears to run through the series and adds an extra dimension as well as a bit of relief from the intensity of what is in this case a truly horrible crime.

Hannah is a brilliant writer and this is a carefully crafted crime story with plenty of surprises to keep the reader happy. She is obviously well respected too, having been selected to write new novels featuring classic Agatha Christie character, Hercule Poirot.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: Hurting Distance

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