The book has a complex plot with many charactesr and subplots, which is a good approach to writing in the domestic noir genre. What differentiates this book from other novels in this genre is that the plot is focused on who did it rather than why. However, both questions are relevant. In this manner, this book resembles a little bit criminal procedural books or its psychological suspense alternative, in the vein of authors such as Nicci French or Tana French.
The story is largely focused on Sally, a woman who had a hot affair but later finds out on telly that her lover’s wife committed suicide and took her daughter with her. But he does not look like her lover. She is determined to investigate this on her own, unable to decide how to approach police on this topic. There are not many people she can confide in on that. That encourages her to go to the man’s house in question, which triggers further events.
There are parallel police investigations in the matter. Like in other books in the domestic noir genre, the police people are skillfully drawn and three-dimensional. Unlike in Nicci French’s novels, they are not hapless people who mess around the investigation. They serve a real purpose in the novel and make key findings.
We learn about these events backwards as the story begins with a bus accident in which Sally is a victim. That is a clever writing trick, as we are immediately immersed in the story, and there is no unnecessary backstory to it. The whole novel is packed with suspenseful scenes and situations. My favourite scenes are those where Sally is kidnapped and trying to escape. The whole thing is also written evocatively, and there is a certain lyricism to it in many parts. Although it is not as twisty as some books in the genre, the revelations that the author places in the novel make it equally enticing.
It is the second book by Sophie Hannah that I read (after “The Monogram Murders’), and I am still enjoying her. Recommend to those who like police procedures/ psychological suspense, as well to those who like to immerse themselves in well-written, lyrical prose. Although domestic noir fiction tends to appeal more to women, I believe that this book will satisfy the appetite of any crime fiction fanatic, as it combines the best aspects of both criminal procedural books and domestic noir.