Book review: The Narrow Bed by Sophie Hannah

Thursday, February 18, 2016 Permalink

British author and poet Sophie Hannah is hugely popular. Indeed her work’s won a myriad of awards and been adapted for television.  And she’s prolific, writing crime fiction, psychological suspense, children’s literature and poetry.

I’m a relative newcomer to her work, having (only) read her standalone thriller, A Game for all the Family and the predecessor to her latest release, The Narrow Bed. And I have to admit… I’m still a little undecided about the extent of my own thrall….

Book review: The Narrow Bed by Sophie HannahThe Narrow Bed
by Sophie Hannah
Series: Culver Valley Crime #10
Published by Hodder & Stoughton
on February 9th 2016
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Psychological Thriller
ISBN: 9781444776096
Pages: 400

A killer the police have dubbed Billy Dead Mates is killing pairs of best friends, one by one. Just before each murder, he sends his victim a small white book...

Three regional police forces are working together to identify and catch Billy. For five months, they've been failing. Then a fifth victim, scared by what she's seen and heard on the news, comes forward to seek help. Unlike Billy's first four victims, she isn't dead. Yet.

Stand-up comedian Kim Tribbeck has one of Billy's peculiar white books. A stranger gave it to her after a gig she did a year ago. Was he Billy? Now Kim's life depends on working out why she - a woman who has no close friends because she trusts no one - should attract the attention of the Best Friends Killer... And, if Billy has her in his sights, why has he waited so long to strike?

There was a lot I enjoyed about this novel. Indeed, I probably enjoyed the first two-thirds. A lot.

The plot unfolds in first person via Kim – at the time of the investigation; also via other characters (in third person); and also via a book Kim’s writing about the events (some time in the future). It sounds a tad complicated but in reality it’s pretty easy to follow what’s happening.

I struggled however, a little with backstory. Although I read The Narrow Bed’s predecessor I remembered NOTHING about police officers Simon Waterhouse, Charlie Zailer or Sam Kombothekra. So wasn’t sure occasionally if I was being obtuse, or if there was some history I was missing.

However… my biggest gripe with this book is actually about the crimes and their motivation. Hannah keeps us guessing for most of the novel and does a great job of that. Pairs of friends have been killed and there’s undoubtedly some dastardly reason. However selecting Kim and her mostly-estranged grandmother really doesn’t fit that pattern.

And Kim (and Simon to an extent) both tell us they sympathise with the perpetrator and understand why they did what they did. Which made no sense at all. Sure… the perp has a reason for doing what they’ve done (and don’t all psychopaths and sociopaths have ‘some’ reason which makes sense to them. I mean they’ve been slighted in some way which blows out of proportion until it manifests itself in some seriously screwy behaviour). However… again… the perp’s motivation is SO EXTREME it’s ridiculous. It’s akin to saying I hate blue because I was once hurt by someone wearing blue, so everyone who wears blue should therefore die.

Sigh… okay. Rant over.

As I said, I enjoyed the first part of the book – which is as much about Kim and her life – as the crimes and police investigation. Hannah does a great job with Kim – a comedian who puts on a prickly and ballsy front she believes people expect, but is actually a sensitive likeable character.

The Narrow Bed by Sophie Hannah was released in Australia via Hachette on 9 February 2016.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.

  • Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library
    February 19, 2016

    I’ve only read one book by Sophie Hannah and that was the one she wrote with Agatha Christie’s Poirot. I enjoyed that book but there was some elements that didn’t quite work in the mystery and it sounds like that’s the case here. They sympathizing with the killer definitely made me raise an eyebrow! There’s a difference between understanding and being sympathetic! I do want to read more by Hannah but I don’t think this will be the book. Great review!

    • Debbish
      February 19, 2016

      Thanks Katherine…. I’d love to check out the Poirot book as I’m a huge fan….

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