KIND OF CRUEL by Sophie Hannah


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British writer Hannah, who specializes in psychological thrillers, continues her series centered around two married police detectives, officers Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer.

Amber Hewerdine visits a hypnotherapist seeking help sleeping at night. Although a skeptic, she’s been suffering from insomnia for so long that she’s desperate for a good night’s sleep. While there, the acerbic Amber meets Zailer, a police officer who is halfheartedly trying to quit smoking. Through a confusing series of events, Amber says several odd things to the hypnotherapist, including the words, “Kind, Cruel, Kind of Cruel.” Those words have special significance to both Waterhouse and Zailer since their imprint was found on a pad of paper discovered at the murder scene where Katharine Allen, a primary teacher, was discovered bludgeoned to death. Waterhouse immediately sees the significance of Amber knowing this unreleased detail and has a fellow officer bring her in for questioning. Amber has a strange past of her own: Her best friend, Sharon, was killed in a fire, and she has custody of the woman’s two small daughters, who escaped the blaze. Add to this a peculiar extended family, an odd night that took place in a rented house and another fire, then mix in some bizarre police work, and you'll get Hannah's sometimes-confusing, overly complex tale. Part of the problem is that Hannah peoples her story with unlikable characters: The police officers spend most of their time stomping around, name-calling and screaming about office politics and their personal lives.

Back and forth shifts in time and the multiple narrators may confound and alienate readers.

Pub Date: Aug. 6th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-670-78585-8
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2013


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