Online Transgressions: The Telling Error

The Telling ErrorThe Telling Error by Sophie Hannah

I think it is impossible for a Sophie Hannah book to have a blurb that does not sound intriguing yet I have only ever managed to read one of her books, Little Face, which I finished while sitting in a park on an unexpectedly sunny day shortly after it was published in 2006. Unfortunately I chose a rather grim day to read The Telling Error so I hope this hasn’t clouded my judgement!

Nicki Clements goes to great lengths to avoid a certain policeman on a school run. She is clearly hiding something. Is it linked to her secret online activities? The next day Nicki is taken to the police station for questioning in relation to the murder of the controversial columnist Damon Blundy. She has no idea what the killer’s cryptic message ‘He is no less dead’ could mean but does that prove she is not involved?

First Impressions: I got into the story really quickly and was curious to discover what it was Nicki was hiding.

Highlights: Sophie Hannah did a really good job of keeping her novel contemporary with the focus on online identities, anonymous news site comments and chat rooms. Although it is easy for a TV show like Sherlock to focus on modern technology with text messages flying back and forth, I think it is a lot more difficult for a novelist to achieve. Despite my comments below, another strength of this novel is that there was enough in the story for me to want to finish it and see the mystery unfold.

If I was an editor: One word: overwritten. Not only were Blundy’s newspaper columns too long but for me there were far too many long discussions hypothesizing who may have had a motive to commit this crime.

Overall: This novel was just not for me although I did want to finish it. Sophie Hannah has a lot of fans but based on other reviews I have read I think her novels are a bit like marmite; different groups of readers love certain novels and dislike others. So many reader factions for one author! Despite this, it seems that most stick with her novels to the end and read all her new releases regardless of how they felt about her previous offering. Now that is a loyal fan base.

The Telling Error: 2 stars

Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton for a copy of the ARC to review.

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3 thoughts on “Online Transgressions: The Telling Error

  1. I was a huge Sophie Hannah fan, but her last few books haven’t been close to how good her early one’s were. Despite this, I still get each new one immediately in the hope she’s back on form. Recently they’ve been far too convoluted for my taste – they always were, but she got away with it in the earlier books. Now they’re too far fetched for my taste. Still I live (and read on…) in hope!

    • Convoluted yes, unfortunately. I think every one of Hannah’s books has been on a TBR pile at some point. I would prefer some action and unraveling of mysterious clues rather than so many conversations! The detectives and police are all too similar as well but I guess all authors go through good and bad patches when they release so many books.
      I enjoy following Sophie Hannah on Twitter and had hoped I would be writing a cracking review…

      • After reading your review I’m starting to think that she’s not anywhere near back on form. Her last one (The Carrier) took me 3 weeks to read, when I used to whizz through them in a day or two. There was no feeling of,”…dying to get back to that book!” the way there used to be with her novels – it had become a chore, not a pleasure. Reminded me of Linda Fairstein, and for that matter, Patricia Cornwell. Their early books were quite groundbreaking, esp Cornwell’s, and in Fairstein’s case I loved the way she showed us hidden bits of New York. Recently, though, they’ve both been appalling. I’ve still read most of the books, due to some bizarre loyalty I suppose, but it’s as though they’re “phoning it in”. They both need tough new editors, and agents, to say, no, it’s not acceptable to release crap just because you know that, with your name on it, it’ll sell! Sorry, rant over!

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