Published by Soho Press on October 1st 2007
Genres: Fiction, General, Mystery & Detective
The first time Alice Fancourt goes out after their daughter is born, she leaves the two-week-old infant with her husband, David. When she returns only two hours later, she swears the baby in the crib is not her child. Despite her distress, David is adamant that she is wrong.
The police are called to the scene. Detective Constable Simon Waterhouse is sympathetic, but he doubts Alice's story. His superior, Sergeant Charlie Zailer, thinks that Alice must be suffering from some sort of delusion brought on by postpartum depressions.
With an increasingly hostile and menacing David swearing she must either be mad or lying, how can Alice make the police believe her before it's too late?
This made me so mad and sad, as I had been looking forward to reading Sophie Hannah for literally years. I decided to start off with the first book in the series, but almost wished I hadn’t. I’ve read several reviews with people who quite enjoy her books saying that they started further in the series, but if they’d started with this book first, they probably would never have read her other books. This gives me hope at least, because boy, do her books have some freaking cool premises.
This one sounded amazing: a new mother returns from her first trip away from her newborn daughter to return and find that the baby in the crib is not her baby. Or so she claims.
This book could’ve been so fantastic, but it mostly just made me feel icky and then really angry at the ending.
This book is basically everything I dislike in a psychological thriller, in that the ending really sucked and so many storylines just didn’t make sense or were completely unnecessary.
The books jumps between two different timelines. Normally, I don’t mind this, but this was particularly confusing. I’d say that listening to this on audio probably didn’t help, except that The Girl on the Train was an audio and had several different timelines, that were very easy to keep track of. I read several other reviews where others were just as confused as I was, so that made me feel better. Anyway, it jumps between the main character, Alice, the main police detective, Simon Woodhouse, and his senior officer, Charlie Zailer. I always enjoy seeing multiple perspectives, and I quite liked Simon (most of the time). However, there is a weird romantic interest thing going on with Charlie and Simon and IT WAS THE STUPIDEST THING EVER. I just did not give a crap about it at ALL. Now, I love a good romance, even in crime thrillers, but this one was unnecessary, stupid and it detracted from the main story and then had no resolution at all. AT ALL. Nothing happened. Also, Charlie was just horrible and let her emotions get in the way of her work, which just seems like a horrible stereotype. Of course the female police officer lets her feelings get in the way or her work. But not the male police officer, that would just be silly. A major reason for me to not continue with this series, no matter how great people say it is, would be the Simon/Charlie thing. Ugh.
Secondly, the way that Alice’s husband, David, treats her right from the beginning was really hard to read/listen to. I know that when reading a crime novel, there are going to be some icky, disturbing parts. But this was really vile. One scene I actually had to skip because it just made me feel really awful. This certainly indicates good writing, but I didn’t really find the sheer extent of David’s nastiness necessary for the story to work.
I did, however, really like Alice’s relationship with Vivienne and what it meant to her. I thought Sophie Hannah described this perfectly. Ditto Vivenne’s weird control over David, and practically everything in her life.
The ending of this book just made me so bloody angry, it’s hard to describe without giving anything away. Simon’s attitude to Alice the whole way through the book is always a bit weird, but the end was infuriating. SPOILER!:View Spoiler » It was obvious that Alice needed to pretend the baby wasn’t hers (which was a very irritating way to end the novel), in order to keep the baby safe. It was all explained very clearly, and I was on her side with this one. However, Simon’s lack of understanding made me so mad, I wanted to yell at him! « Hide Spoiler The other part of the ending was somewhat guessable, so therefore, quite disappointing. Equally disappointing was the way in which the villain conveniently describes their crimes and why and how they did it.
Overall, this book was a confusing one. I think I like Sophie Hannah’s writing, though it was slow going at times, but I really disliked the majority of the ending and the load of unnecessary storylines: David’s abuse, the weird love interest thing.
I think, if I ever decide to read another Sophie Hannah book, it won’t be for some time.
Props to the narrator though, she was amazing!!