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A Room Swept White (Culver Valley Crime) Hardcover – 18 Mar 2010

3.0 out of 5 stars 86 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; Culver Valley Crime Book 5 edition (18 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340980621
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340980620
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 22.2 x 3.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 706,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Fliss Benson is a TV producer struggling to deal with a personal tragedy in her own life. She receives at work an anonymous card which consists of 16 numbers arranged in four rows of four. These numbers mean absolutely nothing to her. At the same time, she is handed a particularly unwelcome assignment: she has to work on a documentary about cot death and three mothers accused (wrongly, it seems) of murder: Helen Yardley, Sarah Jaggard and Rachel Hines. The controversial Dr Judith Duffy, who was responsible for the arraignment of the women after the death of their children, is now under investigation for misconduct, and the women have been set free. Fliss Benson’s reluctance to work on the film springs from a particularly personal issue -- involving both cot death and the suicide of someone very close to her.

This is the arresting premise of Sophie Hannah’s A Room Swept White, and it's further proof (if proof were needed) that since her remarkable debut with Little Face, Hannah seems almost unable to put a foot wrong in the arena of the psychological thriller. The scenario here darkens when one of the three women, Helen Yardley, is found dead at her home. On the body is a card with the same layout of numbers arranged in four rows of four that Fliss Benson had been sent. She is soon faced with both intimidating moral dilemmas and physical danger. Par for the course, in fact, for a Sophie Hannah heroine. Apart from the sheer storytelling skill which is the sine qua non of Hannah's work, one of the most impressive aspects of her books is a subtlety with which she is able to address a variety of moral arguments -- such as the massively divisive issue of cot death in this book. In these areas, the tabloid press is always looking for villains, be they child-killing mothers or heartless social workers. Hannah is well aware that such moral issues are never clear cut, and the fact that she is able to address such subtleties in the context of a page-turning thriller is a mark of her skills. --Barry Forshaw

Review

When it comes to ingenious plots that twist and turn like a fairground rollercoaster few writers can match Sophie Hannah. (Daily Express)

This book's triumph is that it is not just a perfectly executed psychological thriller, but a pertinent meditation on society itself. (Guardian)

A remarkable novel, and an adventure to read . . . a first-class whodunnit that will keep you reading long into the night. (Scotsman)

Hannah is a master of intense psychological thrillers. (Heat)

'This book is an uncomfortable read because the subject of mothers wrongly convicted of killing their babies and being consequently imprisoned is so painful. The idea of a baby's death; the idea of a mother being accused of bringing about a tragedy that she can hardly survive; the idea of social workers damned if they do remove a baby and damned if they don't; and the sweeping statements with which a self-styled expert can ruin someone else's life - all these scenarios, sadly familiar from contemporary news stories, really hurt to think about.' ()

'Enthrallingly complex . . . A multi-stranded narrative that grips' (The Sunday Times)

'Intriguing, unnerving and engrossing . . . Hannah has timing down to an art. What she has created in A ROOM SWEPT WHITE is more than a murder mystery. It is the most adept of psychological thrillers, in which - as with Hannah's other novels - the psychosis lying just below the surface of the human personality is exposed . . . A remarkable novel, and an adventure to read . . . Undoubtedly a first-class whodunit that will keep you reading long into the night.' (Scotsman)

'Strongly characterised . . . provocative' (Barry Forshaw, Daily Express)

'Sophie Hannah has been rightly praised for intricate and accomplished psychological thrillers which dissect the dark side of human relationships, and her fifth novel, A ROOM SWEPT WHITE, covers obsession, manipulation, meltdown and all points in between.' (Guardian)

'Just when I thought she couldn't get any better, Sophie Hannah has done it again, with her fifth novel . . . This thriller is full of twists and turns, and, once again, it's impossible to guess how it will end . . . No wonder her novels are being adapted for a Prime Suspect style TV series later this year! 9/10' (Peterborough Evening Telegraph)

'Classic Hannah, with genuinely thought-provoking issues and thoroughly believable characters fleshing out a plot of satisfying complexity . . . It's twists like these that tighten the tension running through Hannah's novels and help make her latest mystery so rewarding' (Yorkshire Post)

'Sophie Hannah has quickly established herself as a doyenne of the 'home horror' school of psychological tension, taking domestic situations and wringing from them dark, gothic thrills . . . Combining probability theory, poetry and murder, this is a densely plotted suspenser with a coded puzzle that would grace a Golden Age mystery.' (Financial Times)

'Sophie Hannah has quite quickly built a reputation as a superb writer of the psychological thriller built around domestic situations. And deservedly so. Her novels transcend the crime genre through the quality of the writing and the exploration of themes relevant to all our lives - jealously, love, justice and retribution. Hannah is also a poet, and it shows. Elegant, bright phrases gleam like gold thread through the tapestry of the novels, making them a pleasure to read.' (Booktopia, Australia)

'A perplexing thriller with intrigue and infanticide . . . It's a given that nothing will be as it seems in the latest psychological thriller from Sophie Hannah, who marries complex plots with crisp, conversational prose' (Marie Claire)

'A fingernail-shredding plot' (Candis)

'As Hannah sees it things are rarely clear cut and it is this moral ambivalence that makes her fiction so provocative' (Daily Express)

'She writes beautifully, the narrative races along with the reader breathlessly trying to catch up and the subject matter is fascinating. This is her fifth psychological suspense thriller and, like the others, it's destined for bestsellerdom.' (Carla McKay, Daily Mail)

'Hannah's crisp, expressive prose marches you briskly between sharp details and confident characterisations, building an ever more complex, rewarding plot as it goes. Tension drips from every page, but not at the expense of intellectual provocation' (City AM)

'Compelling . . . knife edge tension right through to the unsettling finale' (Take a Break)

'Hannah takes domestic scenarios, adds disquieting touches and turns up the suspense until you're checking under the bed for murders . . . it's this real-life research that helps make it so convincing - and so unsettling' (Independent)

'Hannah is a master of intense psychological thrillers . . . Full of twists and turns, and terrifying, too' **** (Heat)

'A ROOM SWEPT WHITE is a compelling read. I thoroughly recommend it, but be warned: from the moment you turn the first page, you'll be incapable of doing anyting - eating, sleeping, working - until you reach the end.' (Cambridgeshire Journal)

'Brilliantly pacy and penetrating psychological thriller' **** (Daily Mirror)

'A cleverly plotted psychological thriller by an author with a growing reputation for intelligent, creepy, crime novels.' (Choice)

'Sophie Hannah has a poet's eye, and she creates characters and settings of closely observed complexity in her psychological mysteries.' (Daily Telegraph)

'Taut, ingenious' (Sunday Express)

'Guaranteed to chill on even the hottest day.' (Independent)

'The title really sells it. It's creepy stuff, which Sophie's things often are, quite necessarily.' (Tana French, Irish Times)

'When it comes to ingenious plots that twist and turn like a fairground rollercoaster few writers can match Sophie Hannah. Hannah's complex and beautifully written tale kept me guessing right till the very last page.' (Daily Express)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: 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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