Sophie Hannah is an author that I was introduced to this year whilst competing with Polly in our favourite game in Borders/Waterstones/Foyles (delete as appropriate) where we compete with who has read the most on each table of books. I am sure I have blogged about this somewhere at some point. So anyway we found her collection of short stories called ‘The Fantastic Book of Everybody’s Secrets’ which was right up our alley as we are both complete nosey parkers. Once I had devoured that I looked into what else Hannah had written and saw that she had written crime (as well as poetry) and as soon as I knew there was a crime series well I was on readitswapit before you can say readitswapit.
Little Face is the first of a series of three (so far) crime novels. Now I have to say I wouldn’t totally put this book in the crime section, I love the fact that crime and fiction are in some ways merging in some ways I would compare Hannah to Kate Atkinson with her crime; however this is more of a psychological thriller more than anything and not your stereotypical detective crime story. It’s a refreshing modern thriller that creeps (and in some places becomes extremely creepy) up on you and has a slight gothic feel to it.
Alice Fancourt comes home from a day checking out a spa as a treat from her mother-in-law Vivienne not long after giving birth. When she comes home she finds the door open and her husband asleep, she runs upstairs and screams, not because the baby is gone but because the baby in the crib is not the baby Florence that she gave birth to.
The story is told in two parts. There is the story of Alice and the disappearance (or swapping) of her daughter, is she mad, will anyone believe her? Why has her husband David suddenly become cruel and possessive and why cant his mother Vivienne (a fantastic character who reminded of me oddly enough of Mrs Danvers from ‘Rebecca’) decide who she should believe. The other side is told from the Detectives on the case Simon and Charlie who get the case, they have personal issues to contend with as Charlie is in love with her number two Simon, they also wonder if there is more than meets the eye with the Fancourt’s as David’s wife was murdered outside their picturesque house ‘The Elms’ did they get the right killer?
Hannah makes quite a complex clever story a breeze to read. It’s really original, I didn’t guess the ending at all, bar one bit, and you find you’re trying to solve more than the one mystery you thought that you were originally getting. This is a brilliant book for crime fans, people who like a page turner, people who like good writing and those who gently want to ease into crime. Really it’s a book for anyone and everyone.