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Kind of Cruel (Culver Valley Crime) [Hardcover]

Sophie Hannah
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
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Book Description

16 Feb 2012 Culver Valley Crime

When Amber Hewerdine consults a hypnotherapist as a desperate last resort, she doesn't expect that anything much will change.

She doesn't expect it to help with her chronic insomnia . . .

She doesn't expect to hear herself, under hypnosis, saying words that mean nothing to her: 'Kind, cruel, kind of cruel' - words she has seen somewhere before, if only she could remember where . . .

She doesn't expect to be arrested two hours later, as a result of having spoken those words out loud, in connection with the brutal murder of Katharine Allen, a woman she's never heard of . . .

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Kind of Cruel (Culver Valley Crime) + A Room Swept White (Culver Valley Crime) + The Point of Rescue (Culver Valley Crime)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (16 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340980699
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340980699
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 249,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling writer of psychological crime fiction, published in 27 countries. In 2013, her novel The Carrier won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards. Sophie has also published five collections of poetry. Her fifth, Pessimism for Beginners, was shortlisted for the 2007 T S Eliot Award. Her poetry is studied at GCSE, A-level and degree level across the UK. Sophie lives with her husband and children in Cambridge, where she is a Fellow Commoner at Lucy Cavendish College. She has recently written a new novel starring Hercule Poirot, approved by the Agatha Christie estate and due to be published in September 2014. This new Poirot novel has already sold to more than 30 countries. Sophie's website is, and you can follow her on Twitter at @sophiehannahcb1.

Product Description


[Hannah] has outdone herself with KIND OF CRUEL . . . Her trademark precision-layered structure creates a multi-dimensional maze that holds at its centre a revelation which is truly hair-raising, even by Hannah's standards. (Independent on Sunday)

An exploration of memory and the way trauma lives on in the present. Cool, calculating and utterly chilling, KIND OF CRUEL is another compulsive book from Hannah, to be gulped down with all the lights on and someone to grab when the sense of menace grows too great. (Observer)

Like Hannah's previous multilayered thrillers, her seventh offers the unravelling of several mysteries, a rich mix of the dark and diverting, and astute portraits of women falling apart. (The Sunday Times)

An audacious puzzle of a novel that is impossible to second guess . . . Crime novels are often dismissed in literary circles for not being literary enough. Yet KIND OF CRUEL is exactly the intelligent, reflective and stunningly written novel that has "literary" critics swooning and judging panels lining up to reward. The fact that it has a police investigation at its heart is a plus, not a minus, and makes for one hell of a journey. (Sunday Express)

KIND OF CRUEL is another compulsive book from Hannah (Sunday Independent Ireland)

Hannah excels at dissecting human behaviour, and the way she describes little acts of cruelty can send real chills down the spine. (Psychologies)

'Hannah's classy psychological thrillers are known for their amazing openings and this one is a doozy . . . The plot developments are often jaw-dropping and the ending is wonderfully satisfying. Another triumph for one of the very best crime writers out there.' ***** (Heat)

If you have ever finished a crime novel having already correctly worked out whodunit and why and are feeling slightly disappointed and cheated as a result, allow me to introduce you to Sophie Hannah . . . if you reach the end of her latest, baroquely plotted novel KIND OF CRUEL one step ahead of her, I wouldn't just be surprised but downright suspicious and sceptical too. (Scotsman)

Intricately plotted and pleasingly sinister, it's guaranteed to get under the skin (Good Housekeeping)

Fast-paced prose makes this a suspense-filled page-turner with a vividly unsettling atmosphere. (The List)

I was looking forward to this book very much and it did not disappoint . . . Again we are given insights into Simon and Charlie's relationship as the new storyline unravels its secrets. I cannot recommend this author enough - I find her books so interesting and readable. (

This taut, intelligent psychological thriller . . . opens up a lot for reading groups to get their teeth into . . . intensely satisfying personal read. (New Books magazine)

[Sophie Hannah] has perfected the psychological thriller, always with strong female characters, and always with a high degree of edge-of-the-seat peril. (Bookseller)

Expect twists and turns throughout and a satisfyingly gripping ending. I would read a shopping list if Sophie Hannah wrote it but I thought this was definitely one of her best (Woman's Way)

A new thriller by former poet Hannah is always an occasion for lip-smacking anticipation. And, unlike with other examples of the genre, these are well-written, psychologically probing works . . . It's chilling without the usual fireworks of violence and police chases - and better for it. (City A.M.)

Sophie Hannah's well-written and intelligent psychological thrillers always chill and intrigue (Choice magazine)

Just when I think I've seen everything a psychological chiller can throw at me, along comes Sophie Hannah to keep me guessing until the last page . . . Hannah begins at the heart of the knot and teases out the strands; she's a princess among crime writers. (Saga)

'A stunningly clever and compelling tale about a woman accused of killing someone she's never met' ***** (Heat)

A highly original tale of warped personalities,suppressed memory, and brutal murder, this is an intelligent, accomplished and completely chilling page-turner. (The Good Book Guide)

A highly original tale of warped personalities,suppressed memory, and brutal murder, this is an intelligent, accomplished and completely chilling page-turner (The Good Book Guide)

Sophie Hannah is currently one of the most prolific authors in Britain (Stylist)

Book Description

The brilliantly chilling seventh crime novel by the critically-acclaimed queen of psychological suspense.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Maybe only me 3 Mar 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I don't want to seem negative when all the other reviewers are absolutely raving about the stunning literary masterpiece, but however much I enjoy Sophie Hannah's novels, this one just doesn't do it for me. There are too many characters, too many names and issues that I keep getting mixed up. I don't really care about what happens to them. Can't get my head around the story itself and the parallel stories attached to it. Sorry. I'm plowing through it and it's not bad on the whole as reading goes, but doesn't have me captivated like other of Sophie Hannah's books before. I can take it or leave it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An unthrilling thriller 9 Sep 2012
By Jemma S
This is the first Sophie Hannah book I've read, and it will probably be the last.

I was initially intrigued by the blurb on the back cover, which sets out the basic premise of the story (heroine is arrested for crime she knows nothing about) along with some oddball teasers (four family members vanish for 24 hours; suppressed memories return through hypnosis).

The story itself starts off a bit like a Sophie Kinsella novel, especially the funny episode where the hypnotist asks Amber, the heroine, to mentally descend an imaginary staircase into a trance, and Amber gets hung up on what the staircase should look like.

After that, Hannah rapidly assembles many of the standard ingredients of a murder mystery thriller - the various police officers, the family with secrets, the heroine trying to prove her innocence, the inexplicable turns of events, the gradual revealing of key facts.

But this isn't a normal murder mystery. For one thing, the murderer is unmasked with about 100 pages still to go, and from then on, it's all about the motivation for murder - not so much a whodunnit as a whydunnit.

All of the above could still result in a satisfying thriller. But Hannah doesn't seem interested in thrilling her readers; she's quite happy to introduce many relevant but baffling events to get the reader's brain working overtime, but there's very little in the way of menace or tension; what she really seems to want to do is write an essay about certain kinds of mental illness. A brave thing to do perhaps, but also rather dishonest. If I'd had any idea it was that sort of book, I wouldn't have bought it in the first place.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as her other novels 6 Mar 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I was disappointed by "Kind of Cruel". It lacked the substance/suspense of Sophie Hannah's other novels, in that it wasn't too hard to guess "who dunnit" and the long explanation by Waterhouse in the final chapter as to the perp's motives smacked of the author trying to build credibility around a motive that really wasn't that credible.

However, the real problem with this novel is the relationships between the police officers, which are narrated at length but add little/nothing to the plot development. There is far too much focus on a rather boring power struggle between Proust and Waterhouse which ends with absolutely no consequences for any party, and the relationship between Olivia and Gibbs also adds very little. Waterhouse is getting odder by the chapter and harder to like on any level. Is he going to be the murderer in the next one?

Overall, the impression was of a rather thin plot, padded out by unengaging sub plots and somewhat unlikeable characters.

Disappointing, especially against the quality of her other novels. Hope she re-finds her form for the next one
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull, unenjoyable, I don't recommend this book 13 Mar 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Having bought this book on the strength of its Amazon reviews, I was amazed that I disliked it so much. To me, none of the characters seemed believable - just two dimensional pawns for the author to force her storyline ahead. As others have noted, the plot splits into two main streams - the story surrounding Amber, and the police officers' murder investigation. I never warmed to Amber, but this plot stream wasn't dreadful. The police part, however, seemed to me to add nothing to the book whatsoever. In general, I found the characters in 'Kind of Cruel' irritating, the plot far-fetched and poorly executed, and the style over-ambitious. I was willing the book to end and will not be buying another Sophie Hannah in a rush.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Straining credulity to the limit 30 Mar 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I thought Sophie Hannah's plots couldn't get any more preposterous after the simply ridiculous narrative of Lasting Damage (which I still rather enjoyed until its laughable denouement).

I was wrong.

I think the problem with Kind of Cruel is that I just didn't care. If I have to read another interminable scene between Charlie, Simon, Proust, Sam and the other two who I care so little about I can't even remember their names, I may just hurl the book across the room.

The book picked up a little about halfway through, once the true character of the main suspect began to unfold but I found I was still skimming whole paragraphs in an effort to find something of interest. The weak-as-water 'climax' (told entirely in back-story) and the hypnotist's email which literally went on for pages explaining emotional incest - seemingly lifted straight from a psychology textbook - were the last straw. No more Sophie Hannah for me. Shame because Little Face, Hurting Distance and The Point of Rescue were wonderful.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Never again 14 April 2012
Hi, I have never posted a review before but having just read the last page of this book, I felt I had to. I have read all Sophie Hannahs books and loved them but I hated this one. I was about to give up half way through but kept thinking it would improve. Sadly no. I love books which are real page turners, this one certainly wasnt. I am glad to have finished it. Too many characters, too many stories, just not a good read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars I have enjoyed other Sophie Hannah novels
I have enjoyed other Sophie Hannah novels, but this was the most irritating read I have ever experienced: over written and burdened with too many unecessary characters, unresolved... Read more
Published 20 days ago by Wendy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very happy with purchase
Published 27 days ago by kim kirkpatrick
4.0 out of 5 stars Buried Memories, Buried Emotions
I have to say I can't quite understand the 'roasting' this book has got from reviewers. Certainly, aspects of the plot stretch the reader's credibility at time (but then - at least... Read more
Published 28 days ago by Kate Hopkins
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very good
Published 1 month ago by Julie Frost
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Wow,what a story! This kept me going right to the end. I am looking forward to reading some more of this author's work
Published 1 month ago by bev d
4.0 out of 5 stars This is NOT book 6!!! (but 7)
I havent finished it yet, but can hardly put it down so don't understand the negative reviews.
Surely one cannot review not having read the previous books (and thus built up... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Zorra
5.0 out of 5 stars Book
The book (second hand) came a day after an e-mail told me it would arrive but I was happy with that. Though second hand it was in perfectly good condition. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Susan
4.0 out of 5 stars Drawn in
I am really surprised by the bad reviews this book has received. I found the story intriguing from the start, and got more and more drawn into the story as additional bits of... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Dawnlady
3.0 out of 5 stars Enigmatic mystery with a dissatisfying end
Sophie Hannah always writes a gripping novel and this book is no exception. The main character Amber is both strong-minded and very mysterious, and you quickly become entangled in... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Ms. A. Brooke
4.0 out of 5 stars Something a bit different from a wonderful author
I'm a huge fan of Sophie Hannah, have read all her books and would recommend them to anyone. She can be relied upon to deliver complex psychological thrillers with interesting... Read more
Published 7 months ago by StephanieIsReading
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