What I really liked about this book by Sophie Hannah is that though the lead character Beth sees something completely impossible, she’s conscious of its improbability and considers alternatives despite being sure she’s not mistaken. And of course, given my logic-loving ways…. I also liked that Hannah steers clear of the fantastic and (eventually) the inexplicable as we unpick the mystery.
The first part of this book introduces us to one of our narrators and lead characters. Interestingly it doesn’t touch on ‘the institute’ at all. I’d read the backcover blurb and wondered what on earth disgraced-but-heroic cop Tim Jamieson had to do with gifted kids being kidnapped in Maine but Stephen King is such a masterful storyteller I didn’t really care. I was happy to read about Tim hitch-hiking to DuPray, South Carolina and the people he met along the way, as well as the way he settled into the local community on his arrival.
Even though the cover seemed very familiar it wasn’t until I checked my Goodreads account that I discovered I hadn’t read Erin Kelly’s popular He Said / She Said, which was released 2017. I had – however – read her 2014 novel, The Ties That Bind.
Stone Mothers, we learn, is what the Victorians used to call their mental hospitals because they had faith that the architecture and building design could literally nurse the sick back to health.
I suspect if you asked many people of my generation (and perhaps those born a decade or so before / after) we’d say that Enid Blyton was one of the biggest influences on our reading lives.
I have VERY vivid memories of going to our former library to borrow Noddy books and I LOVED the Faraway Tree, Wishing Chair, Secret Seven and Amelia Jane (though her less so, cos she WAS naughty) but most particularly The Famous Five.
Stephen King is a very gifted writer. I suspect I – and many others – have been distracted over the years by his plots and quirky / endearing / just pure evil characters… that it’s easy to forget how effortlessly engaging his writing can be.
It was something that struck me most in his new novel, The Outsider, which is predominantly centred around new character and local cop Ralph Anderson, although King later introduces Holly Gibney – who regular readers met in the Mr Mercedes / Finders Keepers / End of Watch series.
This latest release by Sophie Hannah reminded me of my cozy fiction days. In many ways, our lead character Cara and another resort guest (Tarin) are Miss Marplesque characters. Though perhaps more like Agatha Raisin. Or Phrynne Fisher (‘Lady Detective’).
I must admit, I was rather taken with Tarin (and Zellie) Fry in particular, and wouldn’t mind meeting them again. I suspect Cara’s story is done, but Tarin would hold some allure for future books in a series. (Akin perhaps to Mary Higgins Clark’s lottery winners, Alvirah and Willy Meehan, who often feature – even in secondary roles – in her novels.)
I rarely watch talk shows. The only one I do watch – depending on its guests – is The Graham Norton Show because I love the host’s wicked and irreverent sense of humour.
I’m aware he’s released a couple of biographical memoirs but regular readers know how I feel about non-fiction (ie. I’d rather poke myself in the eye with a stick. Or eat broccoli.), but I jumped at the chance to read his first foray into fiction, hoping his droll sarcasm found its way into his debut novel. Which it certainly does.