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3.3 out of 5 stars147
3.3 out of 5 stars
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on 3 March 2012
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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on 6 March 2012
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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on 22 August 2012
I have never read a Sophie Hannah book before but, as I'm on holiday, I thought I'd buy it and give her a try. What a mistake. Complete and utter rubbish! I read the whole book convinced that there would be a twist in the tale - there wasn't. What pretentious twaddle with no meaning and unlikeable characters this is. Don't waste your hard earned cash.
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on 30 March 2012
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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on 13 March 2012
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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on 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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on 1 May 2012
My "Couldn't wait for it to be finished" is distinct from "I couldn't wait to finish it".

This was a frustrating read that I completed only because I hate to walk away from novels. I found nothing in this book to give a clue to Sophie Hannah's background in poetry as the prose is rather dull and there's little in the way of evocative description in the writing (I read this between "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet" and "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" and SH suffers badly in comparison). The characters weren't well-drawn and it's only reading the reviews here that I realise some of my frustrations with apparently needless characters and sub plots is likely to be down to their recurrence across several of SH's novels, a trick that other authors carry off with whilst making individual novels coherent (see Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole books) so why can't SH I wonder? Additionally, a major character turns out to be woefully under-drawn (I shan't say more to avoid spoilers) and the final section of the book is devoted to explaining the plot in what is virtually a monologue.

I can see that there are fans of SH's other work here. But I don't think I'll be sampling any more.
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on 24 December 2012
This is really very poor. Perhaps it suffers by comparison since I had just read a Stig Larsson and The Book of Lies by Mary Horlock which were both well written and gripping, but this one is a real waste of time. The psychobabble is unconvincing, the characters all unsympathetic and inconsistently drawn, the plot ridiculous, the motivations unclear. Don't waste your time or money.
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on 15 March 2012
I've bought every one of Sophie Hannah' Crime Books because she writes so differently from the rest. I liked the fact you have two different view points in the plot. But with 'Kind of Cruel' I was more than half way through the book before I even start to like any of the characters.i.e Jo, Amber and Ginny, even the relastionships between Charlie and her sister and the two policemen, Sam and Simon were starting to get on my nerves.

I even felt that I couldn't careless about what happened at Little Orchard, or what the meaning of 'Kind Of Cruel' was and where Amber had, or had not seen it. When I did find out what it all meant I thought 'oh, so what!' and was glad to finish the book. I had pre-order novel, which is something I rarely do, but this was Sophie Hannah so I knew it was going to be good.

I felt so disappointed by this book that I even told Sophie Hannah when I met her at our local book festival. In her talk, she explained how she come up with her plot idea and why she writes the way she does, even explaining that the policeman, Sam always explains everything at the end of the book which made every clear for the reader.

Somehow as a reader, I don't want everything explained to me by a character at the end, I quite like having a few clues along the way to keep me guessing whether I'm on the right track,or not as I try to see if I know who did what to whom and why. The whole idea behind me reading a novel is to be part of what is going on, the outsider looking in, if the whole thing is totally unclear until the last few pages then I might as well read them first and work backwards.

Please, please Sophie give us more of 'The Other Half Lives' A room Swept White' and Lasting Damage' if not I shall have to find another Crime writer to enjoy.

P.s I do know I'm only one little cog :-)
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on 10 April 2012
I have rather mixed feelings about this book - possibly because as a research psychologist I spent some years studying memory, and especially false memory. The opening chapter introduces the non psychologist to the theory that memory is a reconstructive process rather than a veridical tape recording of events - fair enough - I've no argument with that. However I feel I should point out that I would treat with scepticism any memories recovered with the help of hypnosis. It is well recognised by memory experts that hypnosis produces confident memories rather than accurate memories - a point not raised in the book, even by the police.
Aside from this I could not wait to find out what was in the locked room & why Amber's family disappeared. It was also came as a surprise to discover that the writer of the introduction was not who I had initially assumed it to be.
Like some of the other reviewers, I still cannot warm to the main characters but hopefully now, after seven books, we have finally heard the last of Simon's sexual performance issues.
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