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More Manipulation Than Murder, Review of Sophie Hannah’s “The Other Woman’s House”

By Crossstitchyourheart @TMNienaber

(This book was published as The Other Woman’s House in the U.S. and Lasting Damage in the UK, in case there’s any confusion with my international followers)

More Manipulation than Murder, Review of Sophie Hannah’s “The Other Woman’s House”
Kit and Connie are living the perfect life…until Connie finds a different address programmed into Kit’s GPS as “home.”  Since that day Connie’s life hasn’t been the same.  She watches the house in an attempt to see her husband and catch him living a double life, and when the house goes up for sale Connie knows exactly what she has to do, go online and see what it looks like on the inside.  Once on the real estate website Connie sees a dead body in the middle of the lounge and starts a crusade to find the dead woman and the killer.  The only problem is she’s the only one who saw the dead body and no one believes she’s telling the truth.

This is the first book I’ve read by Sophie Hannah, but after going to one of her book talks and hearing her describe the process that went in to creating this book I expected a little more than what I

More Manipulation than Murder, Review of Sophie Hannah’s “The Other Woman’s House”
got.  The sub-plot with the detectives was well written and I think I would have appreciated it more if I had read the previous books and known these characters a little better so I’m not going to talk too much about that.  The main plot is also done well, the idea of “if I saw this would anyone believe me” is an interesting premise and one that could easily be seen in real life even if the situation here is unique.  As a whole these two parts of the novel work well together and advance the plot, unfortunately these aren’t the only plots Hannah brings into the novel.

As a heroine Connie is a little frustrating at times, but she feels like a real person.  Even if I didn’t always like her throughout the book, or wished she’d be a little more decisive, I thought she was believable and I was on her side throughout the book.  The villain of the book is written just as well, and turns out to be an even more complex character than I’d originally thought, very well planned out on Hannah’s part.  The sub plot with the Gilpatricks, however, isn’t nearly as well done and adds very little to the story.  The scraps of grocery lists and school work scattered throughout the story don’t even function well as red herrings, they just seem out of place and part of a story that’s never fully developed.  I understand what Hannah was getting at, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark and adds a lot of unnecessary confusion to the story rather than misdirection.

More Manipulation than Murder, Review of Sophie Hannah’s “The Other Woman’s House”
Other than the somewhat failed Gilpatrick subplot I thought the mystery was done excellently, up until the last chapter, which added a whole new dynamic to the mystery while contradicting a lot of what had already been wrapped up.  I’m not sure if it was Hannah’s intent to leave the reader with something to think about, but this final revelation really didn’t fit with the rest of the plot.  I normally try to keep my reviews spoiler free so I won’t comment on specifics, but this final piece of evidence bothered me not because it was so improbable, but because it was so out of place, like Hannah felt the need to add just one more sub-plot before she finished.

Now, I did enjoy the book for the most part and I will read more of Hannah’s work in the future.  Her plot was complex, at some points unnecessarily so, but she brings an inventiveness and creativity to the mystery that helps it stand out from the standard mystery/crime plots out there.  I don’t think her books are for everyone though, and the lover of the classic mystery novel will come away disappointed.  You almost need to read this book from a psychological stand point and expect more manipulation than murder.

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