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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good pyschological thriller
The strength of this book, for me, was the subject matter. I love a good pyschological thriller anyway but you'd have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by cot deaths and cases involving the deaths of babies which are at the centre of this book. It's topical, relevant and current. And it made me think and ask myself questions that I had perhaps not asked myself...
Published on 25 Aug. 2010 by Boof

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A big disappointment
When TV producer Fliss Benson receives an anonymous card at work containing sixteen numbers arranged in rows of four, it means absolutely nothing to her and she has no idea what to make of it.

On the same day, Fliss discovers she is going to be working on a documentary about miscarriages of justice involving mothers wrongly accused of murder, when their babies...
Published on 26 Sept. 2011 by Jennifer


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A big disappointment, 26 Sept. 2011
When TV producer Fliss Benson receives an anonymous card at work containing sixteen numbers arranged in rows of four, it means absolutely nothing to her and she has no idea what to make of it.

On the same day, Fliss discovers she is going to be working on a documentary about miscarriages of justice involving mothers wrongly accused of murder, when their babies suffered cot-death. The documentary is to focus on three women: Helen Yardley, Sarah Jaggard and Rachel Hines who are all now free, whilst Dr Judith Duffy who was involved in child protection, is under investigation for misconduct after trying her best to ensure all three women would be sent to prison for life.

For reasons only known to herself, this is not a project Fliss wants to be working on, but then Helen Yardley is found dead at her home and in her pocket is a card just like the one Fliss received, with sixteen numbers on it arranged in rows of four...

A couple of years ago I read one of Sophie Hannah's first novels, 'Little Face' and thoroughly enjoyed it. I then equally enjoyed subsequent novels 'Hurting Distance' and 'The Point of Rescue' and thought I had found a new author to enjoy. However, despite looking forward to reading the next novel from Sophie Hannah, entitled 'The Other Half Lives' I found I was left disappointed, as it was very poor compared to the previous novels.
So when 'A Room Swept White' was published last year, I hoped that this book would see a return to form for Sophie Hannah, but unfortunately I found that once again I did not enjoy the book.

Although the blurb on the back of the book sounded interesting and something I would enjoy, I found that right from the first page, 'A Room Swept White' was a very difficult book to get into.

The story is told in both first person from the view point of Fliss Benson and also the third person and right away I found the ditzy character of Fliss Benson, irritating. She also came across as incompetent and I found myself unable to believe in her character and given the serious and upsetting nature of the plot, it just didn't seem to fit. Even her 'secret' was a kept secret for too long in my opinion.
Fliss also is in love with her boss Laurie, but his character refuses to allow himself to be endearing to either her or the reader. I couldn't understand at all why Fliss was interested in him and it didn't make for interesting reading.
In fact, the characters in the book were really a big let down. Even the reappearance of "Snowman" Proust and detective couple Charlie and Simon from Spilling police station who have all featured previously in Hannah's other books could not save this story and their characters were far less interesting than they were previously.
Incidentally, this novel can be read without knowing about these characters in the previous books, as anything the reader needs to know is explained. And that was another let-down for me as I thought there was far too much needless information about Charlie and Simon's relationship and background included in this book, which prevented any suspense or tension building as it moves along at a snails pace.

Several times I put this book down and had to force myself to pick it up again and finish it. It was only the fact that I have enjoyed some of Hannah's previous books so much that I stuck with this one. I kept hoping it would get better, but it didn't.
I also felt that the initial part of the book which intrigued me, in which various people were sent cards with numbers written on them, was not convincing. In addition, various aspects of the plot are simply left in the air. I could never fathom out why for example, the reason Fliss witheld some evidence from the police.
Nothing much seemed to be happening for long periods of the book and I simply couldn't believe in any of the characters, which was tiring and disappointing.
It was a struggle to read this book to the end and it certainly lacks the sharpness and readability of the author's earlier books.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Confused Characters, 2 May 2011
I found this book almost unreadable, and in particular the characters of Ray and Angus Hines to be ridiculous.
The narrative meanders on, with police you would never want to investigate a crime you had suffered from, the murders, or rather the explanation we are supposed to credit, make little sense.
The behaviour of the policeman Proust would, one hopes, not be tolerated by his fellow officers.
The journalist Natrass is another absurd character.
Do not read this book!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sadly, I agree with the more negative reviews, 23 Oct. 2010
I keep giving Sophie Hannah the benefit of the doubt, but yet again, I was left disappointed. I had taken this book on holiday, and so I had more time than usual to settle down to a good read, and to start off with it felt like a real page-turner. But the confusion of the second half of the book left me so confused, that although I stuck with it to the end, I felt completely let down. I won't mention any of the detail, as I wouldn't want to spoil it for those who do enjoy it, but there were so many gaping holes and unexplained twists that I was really only stumbling through the final chapters. Sorry Sophie, it looks like I have a downer on you - not so, I enjoyed your first novels, but this seems like a great story idea allowed to run amok.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Where did ya get those names, where did ya get those names...?, 24 Sept. 2012
By 
Mary May (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Let's start with the names: Morgan and Rowan Yardley/Paige Yardley/Maya/Fliss/Binary Star/Benego Strett/Gaynor Mundy/Sarah Jaggard/Wendy Whitehead/Marcella and Nathaniel/Dillon/Laurence Hugo St John Fleet Natrass/Lorna Keast/Joanne Bew/Dorne Llewellyn/Russell Meredew.

Fanciful!

I think the author has a problem with names and gender.
Ray is usually short for Raymond, not Rachel. Charlie is usually male, not female.

I won't object to Sam Kombothekra/Giles Proust/Leckenby/Leah Gould/

How could two children have seizures after a vaccination and while a nurse was present and nothing written in their medical records about it, never mind no follow up advice to the parents or diagnostic tests or treatments?

And the way that Fliss realised what the numbers meant could have been explained, rather than her saying she knew and then rushing out of the room. Mind you, I must congratulate her on her excellent hearing. being in a courtyard with an almost closed window didn't stop her following the conversation in the room, accurately and word-for-word.

I could say this book was juvenile, but that would be an insult to young people.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good pyschological thriller, 25 Aug. 2010
By 
Boof (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
The strength of this book, for me, was the subject matter. I love a good pyschological thriller anyway but you'd have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by cot deaths and cases involving the deaths of babies which are at the centre of this book. It's topical, relevant and current. And it made me think and ask myself questions that I had perhaps not asked myself before - A Room Swept White is a very clever book that looks at this whole issue without taking sides.

The story is told in both first person (from the view point of Fliss Benson, a TV producer who is pretty low down the pecking order) and also the third person so the reader is privvy to all the goings on in the case. The book starts with the murder of Helen Yardley who was aquitted a few years ago of killing her two babies and spent 9 years in jail for their murder. She teamed up with a TV producer / Journalist called Laurie Natriss and together they formed JIPAC (Justice for Innocent Parents and Carers) and subsequently set about securing the releases of other women who had also been convicted of killing their own babies or those in their care. The morning after Helen's murder, Fliss Benson is suddenly promoted and asked to carry on making the documentary about the released women, and Laurie Natrass leaves the company. That same morning Fliss received in the post a small white card with 16 numbers on it, which means nothing to her until she finds out that Helen has the same card left on her body by the murderer. What follows is a quest to not only find Helen Yardley's killer before he strikes again but also to get to the truth about whether she did or didn't kill her two boys.

What let this book down for me were most of the characters. I understand that it's a plot driven book rather than character driven (which is why I love thrillers as they're fast paced and you want to know what's going on rather than what a character is wearing) but even so, I didn't actually like most of them. Fliss, the first person protagonist, was made out to be incompetent and ditzy and I could never fathom her reason for witholding some evidence from the police. I had no mental image of her and she felt very one-dimensional, as did some of the other big characters. There was no-one at all in the book whom I actually routed for.

What I did like about the book, however, was the whole issue around the enormity of responsibilty in these cases and just how easily the media can make us believe one thing and then another. All throughout the book I though I believed one thing and then realised that I actually had made a decision on very few facts. Once other facts came to light I was swayed again (in fact several times). Either I am incredibly gulliable or the media is way more powerful than even I imagined. The whole issue around medical witnesses in legal cases was fascinating and certainly an eye-opener (and you may end up thinking differently by the end of the book than you did at the start).

To conclude, I really enjoyed this book. Despite the rather wooden characters and some ill-placed humour (Fliss's comedic inner monologue felt a little uncomfortable to read sometimes as it didn't fit with the overall tone of the book), the actual plot and subject matter was fascinating, surprising and gripping.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and Frustrating, 24 Oct. 2013
This review is from: A Room Swept White: Culver Valley Crime Book 5 (Kindle Edition)
Can a novel work in the first person present tense? It doesn't work in this one and is incredibly annoying. We are treated to a recitation in real time of the narrator's actions: I am climbing out of a window; I am peering in the room; I can see... and so on. There is not one single character in the book who grabs your attention. The main narrator (climbing in and out of windows) is a sort of Bridget Jones clone: so ditzy I'm surprised she can dress herself in the morning let alone solve crime or make television programmes (her job). She is in love with a man who should have been put down at birth. The story is so incredibly confusing I almost felt like making notes to try and sort it all out - and not in a good way because the crime is so fascinating. We have a killer. We have murdered women. The resolution of the mystery is the most banal and ridiculous I've ever read in a novel.
I did actually finish this book because like some other reviewers on here I felt it might get better; the premise is quite a good one. This is just a very badly executed novel. The only good I can take from it is that there is hope for us all if this gets published.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing..., 4 Aug. 2010
I was really looking forward to reading this book - I thought the storyline sounded really interesting and it started well. However, it soon went downhill. I didn't particularly like any of the characters and found some of the 'twists' hard to believe. I felt the story didn't really go anywhere and lots of characters were introduced and ended up being pretty pointless. The ending was also disappointing. This was the first Sophie Hannah book I have read and, unfortunately, it hasn't made me want to read any more of them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bought from Oxfam but going in the bin, 27 April 2014
This review is from: A Room Swept White: Culver Valley Crime Book 5 (Kindle Edition)
I supect Sophie Hannah is getting a bit fed up with writing psychological thrilelrs but that's what her publisher wants so that's what she's writing. Did she have a huge floor plan of this book which she spilt coffee over and then just gave up and wrote gibberish about some of her characters because she was so heart broken at losing it? Or was she on vallium when she wrote it, doing it with half her mind elsewhere? I agree with the other reviewers who comment on the unbelievable characters. They are just not finished, lazily, hazily described with clunky unbelievable dialogue and jolting twists in the plot. There is a scene late in the book that I'll keep vague, so as not to spoil this if you do read it, where an important character is summarily bumped off with hardly a beat taken. The coppers don't make sense either. The young one who hates the older one (I read it a whle ago so have forgotten names but have been burning to say something for a few weeks) is obviously deeply damaged by something that makes him loathe his boss but we never find out why do we? Laurie Natrass just doesn't seem like a real person in any way, shape or form, and she seems to agree that he was embarassingly unlikely and he sort of disappears 2/3 of the way through the book. Scenes such as the one where the social worker takes the baby away because she thinks she is suffocating the baby are just badly drawn. She jumps her characters' persononal pronouns a lot, which works in Kind of Cruel but irritates in this book. And then in the end we never really find out if they did or didn't kill their babies. Having bought this from Oxfam it's now going in the bin as I only pass on books I would love others to read after me and this is not one of those.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Read Hannah's poetry instead..., 4 Mar. 2012
I really like Sophie Hannah's poetry - some of my favourite poems are written by her - but based on 'A Room Swept White', poetry is what she should stick to.

There is nothing specifically bad about this book - it's well written with an intriguing storyline - but the major fault I found was it just wasn't engaging enough. My first issue lies with the sheer volume of characters, some of whom felt surplus to requirements. Storylines are started and never wrapped up (most notably the relationship between DC Simon Waterhouse and his fiancee) and most of the characters, particularly Fliss Benson and Laurie Nattrass, are wholly unlikable. Fliss is scatter-brained to the point where you wonder how she functions on a daily basis, whilst Nattrass is just horrible. Obnoxious, childish, bullish - you name it and the chances are he displays it as a character trait somewhere along the line. And yet most people throughout the story seem to treat him like some sort of icon - someone to be worshipped for his 'genius'. Fliss has a misplaced affection for the man, which we know will never bear fruit, although she continues to follow him about like a lost puppy.

Finally, the story itself is quite predictable, once you get past the promising beginning. The introduction of one particular character was enough to raise my suspicions so much that when their role in the plot is revealed, I was left feeling flat rather than shocked or surprised. This is billed as a psychological thriller, but I failed to find the essence of either. Very disappointing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All this late-night page turning for nothing..., 25 Feb. 2011
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I like the idea for the book. I find the subject matter of women wrongly accused of murdering their babies interesting and hooking. The book is definetely a page-turner as I stayed up till 3 o clock finishing it. I was hooked from the very beginning. But it was all for nothing since the ending is a complete disappointment. I do not see why the the person 'whodidit' actually did what they did to Helen. I think there is too much distraction about other meaningless relationships so I did not focus my attention on the important aspects. Sometimes I also had a feeling like I was reading some chick-lit rather than psychological thriller thanks to Fliss and her 13-year-old mentality...he loves me...he loves me not...oh please love me...or maybe not cause you're a jerk! I don't think all that chick-lit joking around was appropriate for such a serious subject...don't get me wrong, I love chick lit, just not where it is continuosly interchanged with court trials and murders.
This is my first book by Sophie Hannah, I have another one 'little face' on my bookshelf. I will give it a try despite my dissapointment with this one. And if 'little face' turns out to be pointless page-turning as well, I'll give that author a miss in the future.
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