Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review: Woman With a Secret by Sophie Hannah

Woman With a Secret (Spilling CID, Book #9)
by Sophie Hannah
Release Date: August 4th 2015
2015 William Morrow
Ebook Edition; 384 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062388261
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars


Traffic on Elmhirst Road has come to a halt. The police are stopping cars, searching for something. Nicki Clements waits patiently, until she glimpses a face she hoped she’d never see again. It’s him—and he’s the cop checking each car. Desperate to avoid him, she makes a panicky U-turn and escapes.

But Nicki’s peculiar behavior did not go unnoticed, and now the police have summoned her for questioning. A resident of Elmhirst Road has been murdered—a controversial newspaper columnist named Damon Blundy. The detectives begin peppering her with questions. Why was she seen fleeing the scene? What is her connection to the victim? Why was the knife that killed him used in such a peculiar way? Why were the words “HE IS NO LESS DEAD” painted on the wall of Blundy’s study?and what do they signify?

One simple answer could clear her. But she can’t explain why she fled Elmhirst Road that day without revealing the secret that could ruin her.

Nicki isn’t guilty of murder. But she’s far from innocent . . .

My Thoughts
Woman With a Secret is one of those books where I struggled quite a bit to find something to like in most of the main characters. I have only read one previous novel in this series and I enjoyed it quite a bit so I was looking forward to this one, but despite a plot that was certainly intriguing at the beginning, the main suspect sort of annoyed me right from the first chapter and she didn't become that much more endearing as the novel wove through its differing scenarios.

First of all, I really did like the concept of the online aspect of the novel and how people use the internet looking for relationships of all different types, not just the physical ones.  In this case, the person is looking for someone to share their deepest secrets with them; the thrill is in knowing that you shared your secrets with someone you don't necessarily know, in whom you trust to keep them, knowing that they could be spilled all over the internet at any time.  Next, we have a main character who is having an online sexual relationship with someone (and not for the first time), sharing many of her personal details as well as photos of herself with someone who doesn't retaliate in kind.  Scary how trusting some of these people can be, but having seen personally how much information people actually share online is really, really scary.  

The main character, Nicki Clements, really drove me nuts; it's not too often that I actually dislike the main character of a novel, but this one turned me off completely.  A pathological liar, she uproots her family from London, convincing her husband to transfer his job, in order to follow a man whom she thinks she is in love with online, a man she has never met physically.  Unfortunately, this man, a newspaper reporter who has created a lot of havoc and controversy with this columns, has been murdered and Nicki becomes involved in the murder.  Seeing the means and methods Nicki goes to follow through with her lies is just sickening and definitely didn't endear her to me; in fact, I felt really sorry for the husband and wondered why he didn't leave her.  I was actually hoping she was the murderer throughout the novel just so she could go do jail and Adam, the husband, could divorce her and be free to re-marry. Sounds hard, but it is what it is.  To have someone justify extramarital affairs to themselves because they thought they had a difficult childhood actually makes me angry.  And to be honest, while I was sympathetic to Nicki's childhood plight, by the time it was explained, the real sympathy couldn't get past my dislike of her personality.

Woman With a Secret wasn't a horrible book by any stretch of the imagination, and there were parts that I enjoyed.  I found myself analyzing the different relationships in this novel, as one of the main themes was extramarital affairs and relationships.  Because a lot of the relationships were dysfunctional, and because the author focused quite a bit on them, I think some of the mystery was lost and it became a little tedious.  And you will never convince me that two people having an affair should be married to other people in order to keep the love 'alive' in a relationship; I don't really know if that was the message the author was trying to get across (I doubt it), but she did spend a lot of time justifying it through her characters.  I didn't really find the story to be overly complicated, and if you're looking for a quick read, then you might enjoy it; perhaps you may enjoy the shallow characterization a lot more than I did.