Sophie Hannah’s Kind of Cruel (August 6, Putnam Adult) mixes hypnotherapy and mental illness into an appealing and savvy psychological mystery. Readers are introduced to Amber Hewerdine – she’s married and a new mother to her best friend’s orphaned children. She’s also suffering from severe insomnia. Whether it’s the anxiety of the pending adoption, the fallout from her friend’s tragic death, or her efforts to solve a mysterious incident in her family history, is anyone’s guess. Desperation, and days of sleeplessness have forced her to try hypnotherapy.
Amber’s life takes a dramatic turn when she angrily leaves the hypnotist’s office, after an argument over the words “Kind. Cruel. Kind of cruel.” Hours later she is arrested in connection with the brutal murder of Katharine Allen, a woman she’s never met before – her words somehow implicating her in the crime. As Amber becomes involved in the police investigation, it slowly become clear that this murder investigation is closer to her home and family than she would like or could have ever imagined.
This is my first Sophie Hannah novel and though I am looking forward to more of her work, it’s rather difficult to give a comprehensive review because this is one complex story! There are a lot of moving parts here. This is also the 7th book in Hannah’s Spilling CID series featuring married detectives Charlie Zailer and Simon Waterhouse. Simon is already investigating the case of the murdered woman while Charlie gets pulled in through a chance encounter with Amber.
What I really liked about this mystery is the different perspectives introduced into the narrative. Readers follow not only the detectives and Amber, but the hypnotist treating Amber- and she delves into the mystery that surrounds members of Amber’s family that disappeared mysteriously during the Christmas holiday years before. The novel also explores threads between the characters of the detective staff. Zailer and Waterhouse have a complex history, and a new layer to their relationship is unveiled in this latest book.
Kind of Cruel has many twists and turns and it is truly a nail biter, even when most of the mysteries have been unraveled. The suspense requires knowing how all the loose ends come together at the end. Recommended.
News has been released that Sophie Hannah is writing a new Hercule Poirot mystery with permission from the Agatha Christie estate. I’m looking forward to see what the esteemed detective will be like in Hannah’s hands.