Books Magazine

The Carrier

By Drharrietd @drharrietd

9780340980729I have been a huge fan of Sophie Hannah's novels from the beginning. In fact just a year ago I was raving about the one before this one, Kind of Cruel, which I thought was the best yet. So I was really excited to get hold of this, the most recently published. 

What Sophie Hannah does most wonderfully well is to set up situations at the beginning of her novels which appear to be utterly impossible and insoluble. And here, again, we have one such. A youngish businesswoman, Gaby Struthers, is stranded in Dusseldorf airport, and finds herself sharing a hotel room with a distressed and angry young woman called Lauren. It gradually transpires that Lauren is in a panic because she has come to Germany for the day without telling her abusive husband. But she also lets slip the fact that she is worried about someone she knows who has confessed to a murder but who is, in fact innocent. A bit of quick googling while Lauren is in the bathroom reveals to Gaby that the man concerned is Tim Brearly, with whom Gaby has been in love for many years, even though he is married to someone else -- in fact, to the woman who he is now accused of killing. What's more, Tim has confessed to the murder, but will not reveal his motive. Meanwhile Lauren disappears, leaving Gaby in a state of great confusion and anxiety. Did Lauren seek her out? What does she want with her? Why did Tim confess? Who really killed Francine?

Naturally all these and many other mysteries get solved in the end. And in addition there are various other developments in the novel, many of which concern DI Simon Waterhouse and his wife Charlie Zailer, whose strange marriage staggers on regardless. 

I must admit that I enjoyed this a bit less than the last one, partly because I found it hard to warm to any of the characters. Gaby was so relentlessly nasty to poor Lauren, who, despite being uneducated and helpless, certianly didn't deserve the stream of sarcasm she was subjected to. However, I suspect that this was a pointer to Gaby's own unhappiness, and she did warm somewhat to Lauren as the novel went on. Charlie, too, seemed incapable of much other than sharp comments and showed very little sympathy for anyone she encountered. Simon, of course, is always weird and shows no sign of changing. But I was still intrigued by the story and glad to follow it though its twists and turns. So, though it's not Sophie Hannah's best, I'm still recommending it as a highly readable psychological thriller. 

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