Guest Editor Kristy McCormick
I must admit I am usually a fan of the more straight forward thrillers. You know the type â€“ the crime is obvious, there\’s mountains of physical evidence and the story builds on this while leading you to a satisfactory resolution by way of the bad guy being caught. Usually. So the psychological suspense novel is not usually a genre I lean towards through first choice. But all that may be about to change after reading my first Sophie Hannah book.
The Other Half Lives is a psychological thriller in every sense of the term â€“ it draws you in and teases you with tidbits of information, not revealing anything until it absolutely has to and all the while you are truly enjoying yourself trying to piece it together.
Ruth Bussey is the central character in this story and she knows what it means to make a mistake. Ruth once did something that she regrets and now lives everyday trying to forget an ordeal that almost destroyed her â€“ physically and psychologically. She gives up her life to start again, in a new town where people don\’t know about her past. Ensconced in her new life she finds love with her new boss Aidan Seed. He too is troubled by a past he would rather forget, but feels they cannot move on in their relationship until they have each confessed their secrets.
Aidan tells Ruth that years ago he killed someone: a woman named Mary Trelease. Ruth is shocked and confused â€“ and not just by the type of secret her boyfriend has just confessed. She has heard the name before, and as she realises why her fear and worry deepen because the Mary Trelease Ruth knows is very much alive.
The story progresses through Ruth and Aidan\’s attempts to discover what is really going on â€“ and threaded throughout are references to the secrets in both of their pasts. They have both endured some shocking trauma in their lives and it is easy to understand why they are reluctant to trust others. The police soon become involved and this opens up a whole other set of characters â€“ each with their own secrets. The book weaves through all of the central characters lives and is not confusing to follow even though it does jump back and forth quickly at times. As all of the central characters lives become more entwined you feel the pace increase as they rush towards the climax of the book.
The characters are compelling and frustrating at the same time, and although you do find out much about some of them there are others you find yourself wondering about at the end. DS Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer (the police in the story) â€“ have apparently featured in another of Sophie Hannah\’s books so I will definitely be keeping my out for the next installment featuring those two because I\’m sure they have more stories to tell.
The mystery of the murder that did or didn\’t happen is resolved at the end of the book and the ending is not one you would predict early on. It is neatly tied up but believable and satisfying at the same time.
Whilst this book got off to a relatively slow start for me, once I got into it I found myself unable to put it down â€“ it was unpredictable, character driven and Â had a plot filled with obsessive love, psychological torture and just plain creepiness. This is one that I would recommend for lovers of psychological thrillers, but also for others that are perhaps looking to try something a little bit different, because it definitely hooked me in!
Available now: Hachette RRP$32.99