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A Room Swept White Book
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Fliss Benson is a TV producer struggling to deal with a personal tragedy in her own life. She receives at work an anonymous card which consists of 16 numbers arranged in four rows of four. These numbers mean absolutely nothing to her. At the same time, she is handed a particularly unwelcome assignment: she has to work on a documentary about cot death and three mothers accused (wrongly, it seems) of murder: Helen Yardley, Sarah Jaggard and Rachel Hines. The controversial Dr Judith Duffy, who was responsible for the arraignment of the women after the death of their children, is now under investigation for misconduct, and the women have been set free. Fliss Bensonâ€™s reluctance to work on the film springs from a particularly personal issue -- involving both cot death and the suicide of someone very close to her.
This is the arresting premise of Sophie Hannahâ€™s A Room Swept White, and it's further proof (if proof were needed) that since her remarkable debut with Little Face, Hannah seems almost unable to put a foot wrong in the arena of the psychological thriller. The scenario here darkens when one of the three women, Helen Yardley, is found dead at her home. On the body is a card with the same layout of numbers arranged in four rows of four that Fliss Benson had been sent. She is soon faced with both intimidating moral dilemmas and physical danger. Par for the course, in fact, for a Sophie Hannah heroine. Apart from the sheer storytelling skill which is the sine qua non of Hannah's work, one of the most impressive aspects of her books is a subtlety with which she is able to address a variety of moral arguments -- such as the massively divisive issue of cot death in this book. In these areas, the tabloid press is always looking for villains, be they child-killing mothers or heartless social workers. Hannah is well aware that such moral issues are never clear cut, and the fact that she is able to address such subtleties in the context of a page-turning thriller is a mark of her skills. --Barry Forshaw
The most commercial psychological suspense novel yet from critically acclaimed Sophie Hannah
- Sophie Hannah
- 18 March 2010
- Hodder & Stoughton
- Hardcover (Book)
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