The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Rachel catches the commuter train into London. Looking at the same scenary every day she wonders about the people who live in all the houses and begins to create a story about one couple in particular. One morning she sees something disturbing and then when someone is reported missing Rachel feels compelled to become involved.
First Impressions: I was unsure about Rachel’s alcoholism. Would it be cliched and tiresome? Luckily the answer is ‘no’ and it really adds to her characterisation and motivations. It’s actually really sad.
Highlights: What a pageturner! An excellent example of compulsive reading. All the characters and plots are believably linked. There were no outrageous red herrings and the ending was not completely obvious. I did guess the culprit but not all the details.
If I was an editor: It’s hard to think of how this particular novel could be improved but maybe it could be cut down a bit. I think that about a lot of novels though – if I ruled the world everything would be short, sharp and to the point! Rachel’s flatmate should not be so understanding but on the whole all the characters are pretty well rounded for the genre.
Overall: Will be a huge hit.
The Girl on the Train: 4 stars
Thank you to Random House /Transworld for a copy of the ARC.
The 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.