Thursday, April 29, 2010

Some Recommended UK Psychological Suspense

Last November, on a random trip to the bookstore, I came across Sophie Hannah's Little Face on the shelves. Strangely enough, I hadn't planned on completing a then incomplete series in my TBR stack, but it coincidentally ended up that way.

See, a couple of years ago I stumbled across Hannah's Hurting Distance, which is actually the book that follows Little Face. I'm kind of a stickler for reading series books in order (which is why I try to point out which books can be read as stand alones in existing series). But when I realized that it was second in a series, Hurting Distance got buried in the stack and I forgot about the reminder to myself to buy book one.

And so, a year later, there I was. My memory is not so good that I initially realized what it was, but at least my taste is consistent enough to make up for the gaps in my memory!

I ended up bringing Little Face to Charleston with me for my training and read it in the hotel after work that week. It struck me, not for the first time, that the Brits completely excel at psychological suspense.

Not to say that there aren't great authors in the genre everywhere, but I find that very often I come back to Ruth Rendell and Minette Walters as two of the best. Since reading Little Face, I've added Sophie Hannah to that list and with Lullaby, Claire Seeber joined the ranks of my favorites as well -- all UK authors.

For fans of this genre, I definitely recommend trying any of the authors I've listed, but I want to tell you a little about Sophie Hannah's Little Face since I'm gearing up to read more in the series myself.

When Alice Fancourt returns from a much-needed spa day, she becomes convinced that the baby in her home is not her own. Of course no one believes her, but when Alice and the baby both go missing a week later, people do start to wonder. Detective Simon Waterhouse is one of those people. He was assigned the case, but even he believed initially that Alice was suffering from some psychosis. His suspicions turn to Alice’s husband, though, when she disappears.

The story shifts between Alice and Simon, which provides a unique twist to the narrative. Alice’s pieces are from the time of the alleged baby swap and Simon’s sections begin with the investigation into Alice’s disappearance.

Hannah's fifth book in this series has just been release in the UK and the fourth book is due out here in the States in June. The titles vary so here's the list (in order) if you'd like to check them out yourself:

Little Face
Hurting Distance
The Wrong Mother (UK title: The Point of Rescue)
The Dead Lie Down (UK title: The Other Half Lives) -- due out June 1
A Room Swept White (UK only)

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