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Little Face: Culver Valley Crime Book 1 [Paperback]

Sophie Hannah
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (211 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

24 Aug 2006 Culver Valley Crime

She's only been gone two hours.

Her husband David was meant to be looking after their two-week-old daughter. But when Alice Fancourt walks into the nursery, her terrifying ordeal begins, for Alice insists the baby in the cot is a stranger she's never seen before.

With an increasingly hostile and menacing David swearing she must either be mad or lying, how can Alice make the police believe her before it's too late?

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; New Ed edition (24 Aug 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340840323
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340840320
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (211 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,927 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


Sophie Hannah is a real star. (P J Kavanagh in the Daily Telegraph)

'The language and atmosphere are high-quality stuff, and the portrait of a woman in the throes of post-natal depression will be a revelation to some, to others a reminder.' (Literary Review)

'This taut psychological thriller is full of heart-thumping suspense.' (Sainsbury's Magazine)

Sophie Hannah's comic fiction produces reams of entertaining moral sophistry. Her novels sparkle. (Independent)

'Sophie Hannah is nothing if not flexible. An awardwinning poet, she has also published short stories and can now add accomplished "thriller writer" to her list of achievements. On first impression, however, the plot of Little Face may appear borrowed: an unhinged mother gives birth to a darling child only to find, after the initial bonding, that someone has switched babies. That's the nightmare of Alice Fancourt, who returns home after her first outing in two weeks to find the door open, her husband David napping and someone else's child in the nursery. When a controlling mother-in-law and a suspicious policeman enter the plot, readers will realise something is afoot. Adding to the tension are fears surrounding the death of David's first wife, and the discovery of a family "tradition" of estranged children. But just when readers think the plot offers no surprises, Hannah wrong-foots them and works her way, at a heart-thumping pace, to a delicious ending. Unless she wants to try her (South China Morning Post)

Hannah has a keen ear for her characters' foibles, snobberies and hypocrisies, and the observation remains acute throughout. (Observer)

'This may well turn out to be the detective novel of the year . . . So develops a terrifying mystery of manipulation, counter-manipulation and, finally, astounding revelation - it's a haunting story told with bewitching skill' (Scotsman)

'This may well turn out to be the detective novel of the year . . . A terrifying mystery of manipulation, counter-manipulation and, finally, astounding revelation - it's a haunting story told with bewitching skill' (Scotsman)

'The author is a poet by trade and she brings a wealth of psychological and literary subtlety to bear in this impressive novel. Smart and disarmingly unnerving.' (Daily Mail)

'Hannah adapts to crime fiction with arresting aplomb: her characters are vivid, the novel's challenging double narrative is handled with flair, and its denouement is ingenious' (The Sunday Times)

'Sophie Hannah has written a riveting thriller that will keep you turning the pages in one sitting if possible. Her observations about what lies beneath the surface of other people's lives are intelligently made and beautifully written.' (Irish Independent)

'LITTLE FACE is that most fascinating and intelligent of modern crime novels: rather than a whodunit, it escalates from a how-and-whydunit to a point where the reader is unsure if a crime has been committed at all . . . Hannah never deviates from her intention: to deliver a gripping crime story of the first order, loaded with subtext and meaning.' (Leeds Guide)

'Hannah's whodunit milks a classic formula with subversive results. This missing-baby tale chimes with very modern anxieties. Custody issues lie at the heart of the resolution, and the increasingly perverse relationship between Alice and David is grounded in recognisable reality that serves only to make our flesh crawl more.' (Emma Hagestadt, Independent)

'I do not really want to discuss this thriller. I do not want to give away any of the quite brilliant twists to those who may not have read LITTLE FACE or have not yet finished it. So, you will just have to take my word, and that of those who mailed the Books group, that Sophie Hannah delivers as good a finale as any crime writer. I was extremely impressed.' (Alyson Rudd, The Times)

'A suspensful and psychological thriller, the plot twists and turns right up until the very last.' (Heat)

'Hannah keeps a keen eye on the pace and suspense which makes for a riveting if uncomfortable read.' (Londonpaper)

'Intriguing. Hannah's depiction of releationships tested to the limit by domestic tragedy is impressive.' (Simon Shaw, Mail on Sunday)

'A gripping psychological thriller' (Independent on Sunday)

'It's chilling and completely gripping - I stayed up all night to finish it.' (Emily Barr, bestselling author of Cuban Heels and Plan B)

'As the situation spirals out of control and past events find a foothold in the present, Hannah's suspenseful tale will keep you gripped until the truth is revealed.' (Lincolnshire Echo)

'A roller coaster of a read and a real page turner. Find a couple of days when you don't need to be anywhere. Disconnect the doorbell and turn off the phone. I can guarantee you will not want to be disturbed while reading this. Intriguing, thrilling and worrying: where is Florence? What happened to Alice and Little Face? are just two of the questions you will find yourself asking. Along with the age-old is it nature or nurture that makes people into what they are? Sophie Hannah keeps us guessing till the end and then hits us between the eyes with a thrilling climax. Not to be missed.' (NewBooks Magazine)

'Women in peril flit through the pages of traditional Gothic fiction, murmuring 'Had I but known!' as they fall for the wrong man, open the wrong door or apply for the wrong job. Sophie Hannah takes the trusty formula in both hands, gives it a vigorous shake and uses it to produce something fascinating and original in her novel. Beautifully written the novel is outstandingly chilling - terror lurks in the half understood and in anticipation. Little Face is a hugely promising debut. Sophie Hannah is an author to watch.' (Andrew Taylor, Spectator)

'...this is a compelling tale of manipulation, malice, murder and child abduction.' (Daily Express)

'This is a chilling psychological thriller that will definitely have you holding your breath as the plot unfolds. It is a fascinating read and will send chills down the spine of any parent as you constantly ask the question: ''Could this happen to me?''' (Luton News)

'If you want a nail-biter, look no further than Little Face... This will have readers guessing right to the very end.' (Colchester Evening Gazette)

'Sophie Hannah is an award-winning poet and short story writer, and for this, her first novel, she has come up with a chilling thriller... I was left thinking about the book for days' (Gaurdian)

'Little Face is an accomplished thriller that will appeal to anyone who enjoys a rattling good read but will send especially shiver-some chills down the spine of any parent.' (Bradford Telegraph & Argus)

'Sophie Hannah's novels define originality...gripping and unputdownable! She has put "You must read this" back into books and we love her for it.' (B Magazine)

'This is one of the most gripping psychological mysteries I have read in a long time . . . I found some of the incidents profoundly disturbing and outside my comprehension, but all too frighteningly possible. One of the best books I have read in a long time. Truly gripping' (Mystery Women Magazine)

'She ranks among the best recent practitioners of light verse, sharing with Ewart fluency and a good ear, emulating Wendy Cope in her sly wit and blending an eye for the absurdities in human behaviour with compassion.' (Alan Brownjohn The Sunday Times)

'Hannah has a keen ear for her characters' foibles, snobberies and hypocrisies, and the observation remains acute throughout.' (Observer)

'This is a terrific debut from Hannah. Creepy, scary domestic drama done as psychological thriller' (The New Zealand Herald)

'I have been devouring poet and novelist Sophie Hannah's psychological thriller LITTLE FACE. I can't remember when I was more intrigued by the premise of a book... I read this book greedily, longing to know why anyone would swap a baby. Steal a baby yes, swap an adult yes, but swap a baby? It is almost impossible to unravel. The tension ratchets up throughout the book; the scenes of David's increasingly vile psychological torture of Alice are particularly gripping. And, like all good thrillers, the resolution began to make sense just pages before the final revelation of whodunnit and why. A toothsome read; I'm eager to get my hands on the next one.' (Naomi Alderman in the Bookseller)

'Not quite Hitchcock, but a tautly claustrophobic spiral of a story delivered with self-belief' (Kirkus Reviews)

'LITTLE FACE by Sophie Hannah. It's chilling and completely gripping - I stayed up half the night to finish it.' (Marie Claire)

Gripping (Red)

Book Description

'It's every mother's nightmare...' An extraordinary debut psychological suspense thriller from a hugely talented novelist

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a let-down to be honest... 7 July 2011
By Nicola F (Nic) TOP 500 REVIEWER
I'm not going to summarise the plot of this book as that has been done a lot on here already, but I would like to add my two pence worth after finishing this book earlier today and being a bit irritated by it! To be honest, the more and more I think about it, the more faults I start to find with it- and I'd expected it to be such a cracking read from all the accolades sent its way and it being (very highly) billed as a `psychological thriller.'

I suppose it's a good thing that the book did make me think when I'd finished it and I did like the premise of the novel very much when I picked it up- it's just that after a really promising (but very slow) start I felt that this book just grew a bit odd and fell a bit flat somewhere towards the middle. Also, after creating her characters and making them behave a certain way, Sophie Hannah seemed to turn them completely on their heads with no rhyme or reason- David (the husband) for example, suddenly became unquestionably evil and resorted to deplorable mind games to punish his wife and police Detective Charlie became a spiteful b*tch! I get what Hannah was trying to achieve, really I do, it's just that it wasn't tied in to the story particularly well and I was left gritting my teeth in frustration. Also, I didn't particularly like Alice, the main protagonist very much either- particularly towards the end of the novel. You feel like after you have invested time in getting to know her, everything is switched around- and whilst I like the unreliable narrator as much as the next person, in this book it just wasn't tied together very neatly.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very similar to other Hannah books 7 Nov 2009
By Roman Clodia TOP 50 REVIEWER
I recently read Hannah's The Other Half Lives and found it literally unputdownable and was a little surprised at some of the less positive reviews. Having now read Little Face, her first book, I wonder if that's less to do with the books themselves and more about the way each of her books seems to duplicate itself in terms of story, structure and writing style. So maybe the first of her books you read is great, and then there are diminishing returns with the second, third etc?

Little Face has an intriguing beginning: Alice has just had a traumatic birth and she comes home from her first outing to claim that the baby in her house is not hers, that Florence has been swapped for a strange child while her husband has been asleep. No-one believes her: not her husband or his controlling mother with whom they live, or the police. Then, a week later, Alice and the baby go missing and the police are forced to confront her story, uncovering an earlier crime associated with the same family.

Hannah makes good use of elements from classic gothic: what goes on in the privacy of houses (e.g. Wuthering Heights, Thornfield Grange), the difference between the public and private faces of people (e.g.The Tenant of Wildfell Hall), and twists ideas of motherhood and the bonds of love. However her style is a little pedestrian, and the structure of both books I've read very similar: a first-person narrative interspersed with a third-person narrative from the police persepective. This does serve to increase the tension as bits of the story are with-held from us, but becomes quite contrived.
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78 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written psychological thriller 4 Feb 2007
It must be a nightmare to come home after leaving your baby for the first time, to find that the infant you return to is not the one you left. Even more so when you cannot convince those around you, who put your story down to post-natal depression. This is the starting point for this well-written psychological thriller. It is written in two voices, that of the mother, and of one of the detectives who is sent to investigate the mystery at "The Elms", (the home of Alice's mother-in-law, and devoted grandmother of 'little face'). This 'dual voice' actually works well and the pages turn swiftly. This is a gripping read.

The ultimate resolution is perhaps slightly predictable, although it is always easier to set up mysteries than to resolve them satisfactorily. However, the characters are sufficiently believable, and the steps towards reaching the conclusion are sufficiently intricate to make this an enjoyable, if slightly disturbing read. The scenes played out between Alice and her husband are particularly chilling. I will certainly look out for Sophie Hannah's next novel. I wonder, incidentally, if she will give the detectives in this novel a second outing, as there is certainly scope to develop their characters further!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing ending 22 Mar 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I absolutely loved it - couldn't put it down UNTIL got to about forty pages from the end and it all turned into nonsense. I agree with an earlier reviewer - the fact that whole swathes of the book were told in the first person just made a complete nonsense of the denouement, if you could call it that. There really wasn't a twist at the end. It was always going to be one of two outcomes and it was just one of them. No surprise at all.

I will probably try another one of Sophie Hannah's books. But I won't be rushing to it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great crime thriller
How many twists can there be??? Great crime thriller.
Published 10 hours ago by J.S.
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Okay but not the best.
Published 6 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Not bad
Was quite hooked at the start of this book and knew I would finish reading it but I got a wee bit bored towards the end? Read more
Published 1 month ago by Marion Sloan
3.0 out of 5 stars Little Face
A good read. Good twist which I did not see coming. Wish I had know this was the first book in the Waterhouse/Daimler series and read the series in order.
Published 1 month ago by Munchkin3101
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent debut thriller
As a big fan of the genre, I went to a Crime Writers Event in Otley years ago. There was a panel of authors and the audience could ask questions. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Louise Baldock
4.0 out of 5 stars First sophie Hanah
i have been hearing great things about this author so i thought it was about time i tried one of her books. No better place to start than begginning and i really enjoyed this one. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Darren Bourne
4.0 out of 5 stars Wait for the twist at the end!!
A good read. Well worth trying. The end is a neat and unexpected twist. I could not guess how this book would end, but I did like the ending.
Published 4 months ago by Katkin
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great
Odd storyline but kept me hooked. I really enjoy Sophie Hannahs writing and the lives of the police involved with the cases.
Expected more from this story but it was ok.
Published 4 months ago by Ms. Claire E. Janssen
5.0 out of 5 stars Could not put this one down.
Complex characters and a plot that surprises. The second book that I have read by Sophie Hannah and I love the way the reader gets a psychological profile to the characters, this... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Tanya
3.0 out of 5 stars Little face
I did enjoy this book, however I thought the storyline was actually a bit TOO far fetched, which is why I only gave it three stars. But I did think it was a good read.
Published 5 months ago by Elizabeth A
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