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Out of a Clear Sky [Paperback]

Sally Hinchcliffe
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Feb 2009

People talk about the cold, hard light of day. There’s no escaping what you can see by it. There can be no confusing, in that early morning light, the truth with the wished-for reality of dreams. The body was still there. He was still dead.

Abandoned by her lover, Manda finds solace in bird-watching, a hobby her ex-partner introduced her to. The birds provide Manda with an escape from her troubled past – and an uncertain future. But then she falls prey to the ever more sinister attentions of another birdwatcher. As the harassment builds up, she is forced to flee, and details of her complicated past start to emerge.

Haunted by her tenuous relationship with her family and memories of her African childhood, Manda is struggling with the choice between safety and freedom as she tries to escape her elusive stalker. Tempted by the promise of her friend Tom’s protection, she wonders if she should finally trust someone before it’s too late . . .

Told through the vivid images of birds, Out of a Clear Sky is an unsettling psychological thriller which will grip you until the startling, unforeseen end.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Pan (6 Feb 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330453211
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330453219
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 941,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


'Out of a Clear Sky is an unsettling psychological thriller which grips until the startling, unforeseen end.' --Dumfries and Galloway Life

About the Author

Sally Hinchcliffe is in her thirties, and having graduated from Oxford with a First in PPE, has spent the last ten years working at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. Having completed the MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck in 2004, she has also had various short stories published. Out of a Clear Sky is her first novel.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
This debut novel, Out of a Clear Sky, is ... clever. And I say that in full knowledge of what the word `clever' means to most readers, and that it's a turn-off. But this is the other kind of clever; the kind that leaves a little hole of worry or doubt or expectation in your head as you read and then knits up that gap with perfect timing and economy so that you, the reader, feel satisfied (a) that you were clever enough to spot the thing in the first place and (b) that the writer was only playing with you and knew exactly where and when to answer the question that you'd been asking yourself. As an example (and not to play with spoilers here) my heart did sink the tiniest bit when I found the protagonist was called Manda and her sister Zannah - such outlandish names, I thought, and wondered why. And then I found out why, and the solution was so clever, and so apposite to plot development, that I grinned to myself as I read on.

And I'm not a big birder. The truth is that I have a negative thing about birds. But Sally Hinchcliffe reconciled me to the joys of waiting and watching, and Manda's observations of native species are so perfectly slotted into the main storyline that even a non-birder like me will learn and enjoy. More than that though, the way the birding experiences foreshadow or amplify the human narrative is excellently handled. As I say, clever, in all the best senses of the word. If you enjoy Dibden and du Maurier, I recommend this book to you
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bliss 10 May 2008
A clever, thoughtful and deftly assembled thriller. It is short on violence and devoid of cliche. What you get instead is convincing characterisation and acute observation. This is a treat.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality thriller with an individual flavour 25 May 2008
I though this a truly original book blending all the qualities of a good old-fashioned page-turning thriller with some superb writing. The heroine and the locations are unusual; the plot develops and twists slowly and assuredly; flashbacks slowly reveal the keys to the past; the first-person narrative draws you in; and the tension mounts to a satisfying finale. I read this while commuting and several times lost track of my journey, but it wasn't just the need to know what happens next that gripped my attention, but the quality of the writing. And the bird-watching? Quite apart from some genuinely interesting and apposite insights into bird behaviour, it provides the perfect backdrop and framework for the action. Mind you, if you thought that bird-watchers were nuts - well this book proves it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb debut 9 May 2008
By meggo
a gripping, edgy and beautifully written novel, this atmospheric and ambiguous tale, set among a community of birdwatchers, follows a woman pushed to the limit by the attentions of a stalker. as the life she has built for herself is systematically dismantled by her own fear and the venomous attentions of her persecutor, she re-examines the family relationships and early experiences that have made her the woman she is.
utterly unputdownable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terror amongst the Twitchers 15 Feb 2009
A gripping tale combining ornothology with human obsession It was chosen by the BBC a Book at Bedtime and I suspect the chilling factor of a stalker intent on his prey led to many sleepless nights. Beautifully written with all the atmospherics of bird watching (whilst being watched yourself) and the ending has as many twists as the Serpentine. A final chapter you need to read twice to make sure you have'got it!'

A must read. But not in bed
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The new Barbara Vine 11 Mar 2010
I picked up 'Out of a Clear Sky' in the bookshop because it had a recommendation on the front cover that it was like Barbara Vine, one of my favourite authors. It also had a picture of reeds that reminded me of my beloved East Anglian landscape.
It didn't disappoint. I was hooked from the first page - it was a real page turner. I didn't even see the twist coming.
My only criticism is that it could have been longer. The narrative frame would have supported a little more filling out, whatever the publisher's need to keep books short and sweet these days.
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