I just finished reading Kind of Cruel, a complex psychological thriller by award-winning novelist Sophie Hannah. Amber Heweredine has suffered from chronic insomnia for the past eighteen months, a condition that has forced her to try hypnosis as a last resort, not expecting that it will help, but determining that it can’t possibly make things worse than they already are. When, under hypnosis, she utters the words, “Kind, cruel, kind of cruel”, she doesn’t understand what they mean or why she said them. She abandons her hypnotherapist and bolts towards her car, where she encounters another client, a woman she spoke with briefly before her session. She is suddenly sure she saw those words printed in this woman’s notebook, and is desperate enough to check this by breaking into the car once the woman goes in for her appointment. After being caught out for this, she is subsequently brought in by the local police for questioning in connection with the unsolved murder of Katharine Allen two months earlier, a woman Amber has never heard of. Thus begins Amber’s attempts to search for the origin of these words, certain that if she can uncover where and when she first saw them, she will also find the key to solving the murder. As one murder becomes connected to a second murder two years before, Amber’s search intensifies as she explores past experiences she’s had with friends and family members to try to discover the “mystery behind the mystery”, assisted by a team of eclectic, mismatched police. This quest leads to a dramatic, satisfying conclusion that will leave readers longing for more. At once an exploration of the reliability of memories versus stories, an investigation into dysfunctional family relationships, and the exploration of parental responsibility, this page-turner kept this reader up late into the night. While I found parts of the story and some of the characters confusing, I found that if I just kept reading, I would get the gist of the story and figure out which parts were significant and which were “extras”. As I mentioned in last week’s post, Sophie Hannah has been chosen to pen a new Hercule Poirot novel, with the backing of Agatha Christie’s family and the first official novel to continue Christie’s work. I would recommend this title for just about any fans of psychological thrillers.
And I finished listening to First Degree, an “Andy Carpenter” novel by David Rosenfelt, read by one of my favourite narrators, Grover Gardiner. The novels in this series are always a treat for me to listen to, and this one was no exception. It tells the story of independently-wealthy lawyer Carpenter’s efforts to prove his girlfriend, Laurie Collins, former police officer turned private investigator, innocent of the charge of murder in the first degree. Her former boss on the police force, a dirty detective whom she turned in and who subsequently became the focus of an internal investigation, was found beheaded and burned in an abandoned warehouse. All the evidence points to Laurie, and it is Andy’s job to prove to the jury that there is reasonable doubt as to her guilt. At once humorous and compelling, these books are a real treat for me. While not “laugh-out-loud” funny, Andy’s comments make me chuckle regularly. I also learn much about the American legal system from these novels. And I just discovered that the author has an actual dog rescue foundation, the Tara Foundation, just like his main character in the books - wow! I’m impressed! I always enjoy these novels as audio books, and I’m sure the narrator’s natural way with the characters and stories plays a huge part in the success these books have had with me - Gardiner captures the voices and tones of the characters and narratives perfectly, and it is wonderful that so far, he is the only narrator for the books that are available on audio in this series. I have a recent title by this author as a physical book, but I’m not sure if I want to read it or wait until it becomes available as an audio book… it’s a dilemma.
So what do I read next? Review book? Committee book? Book club selection? I will drink my tea and hopefully make a choice soon, as I think this will be a good afternoon for curling up with a good book. Happy Fall!!
Bye for now…