Delve Into The Depths Of Human Pathos In "Woman With A Secret"

23461002Title:  Woman With A Secret
Author:  Sophie Hannah
Format:  Print
Length:  284 pages
Publisher:  William Morrow
Rating:  5 Stars

The New York Times bestselling author of The Monogram Murders—in the ranks of Ruth Rendell, Deborah Crombie, Kimberly McCreight, and Tana French—makes her William Morrow debut with a dark and chilling psychological thriller in which a woman desperate to hide a devastating secret in her past is drawn into a murder investigation
Traffic on Elmhirst Road has come to a halt. The police are stopping cars, searching for something. Nicki Clements waits patiently, until she glimpses a face she hoped she’d never see again. It’s him—and he’s the cop checking each car. Desperate to avoid him, she makes a panicky U-turn and escapes.

But Nicki’s peculiar behavior did not go unnoticed, and now the police have summoned her for questioning. A resident of Elmhirst Road has been murdered—a controversial newspaper columnist named Damon Blundy. The detectives begin peppering her with questions. Why was she seen fleeing the scene? What is her connection to the victim? Why was the knife that killed him used in such a peculiar way? Why were the words “HE IS NO LESS DEAD” painted on the wall of Blundy’s study?and what do they signify? 

One simple answer could clear her. But she can’t explain why she fled Elmhirst Road that day without revealing the secret that could ruin her.
Nicki isn’t guilty of murder. But she’s far from innocent . . .   -Goodreads

My Thoughts
This is a story that is so much more expansive than the reader could ever imagine.
Saying that it is about character a or b, doesn't seem appropriate either. As the plot has less to do with the particulars of what happened ( the murder of one Damon Blundy) and more to do with how the secrets kept by all suspected, led them to be suspected, convicted, or acquitted.

Nicki Clements is a great many things: a mother, a wife, and a woman with a secret. A secret that makes her heart race in her chest, a secret that makes her burn with desire, a secret that causes her to make an ill-timed U-turn on a busy thoroughfare; not far from her home. A secret that makes her a prime suspect in a murder.

What readers soon come to learn first and foremost about Nicki, and later to a lesser degree about other suspects in the offing of the controversial columnist, is that they and the secrets they carry all form a web...with Damon's killer at its heart.

Sophie Hannah builds her story by introducing readers to the secret or secrets, before the character as person, becomes a factor. In doing so, the reader is induced into following said character down his or her rabbit hole. If for no other reason than to see how far it goes.
Plot wise this leads to a story that is very detail heavy. It also creates a storyline that wanders quite a bit. These wanderings are well worth the trip in most cases however, because they often give the reader access to deeper thoughts. Those hidden reasons for things said or done.

One example of this sort of 'circular thinking' would be the introduction of factors by Nicki's ex best friend Melissa, which suggest that Nicki's brother might have committed the murder. Though there is not the slightest hint of a connection between the two men. The author sets the reader on such a well defined path of circumstance, that the conclusion of his involvement can not be ruled out as a possibility. 

Is if the solving of a murder is not a juicy enough steak for her audience to gnaw, there are also generous amounts of psychological sides to satisfy the appetites of those with a hunger to...
Understand the effects of secrets on marriage, parent \ child relationships, as well as the relationship between the secret keeper and his or her secret.

Thankfully, because there is so much emphasis placed on the interworkings of the players within the mystery, the group of inspectors solving it seem secondary to the overall conclusion. Driving this point home, is the fact that they don't come into play in any substantive way until well after 50% of the book. The inclusion of said law enforcement is mentioned in this review because it is the only clue to the reader within the story, that suggests the book is part of a series.

While this is, on its surface, a book about the murder of a man who may or may not have had it coming. This is also an oftentimes glaring look at the human condition. How the need to feel connected, to be heard, to be acknowledged, or even to manipulate \ be manipulated can drive a person to unfathomable levels of depravity.

Reviewer's Note:
This book may be read as a stand alone, though it is part of a series.

 About Sophie
Sophie HannahSophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling writer of psychological crime fiction, published in 27 countries. In 2013, her latest novel, The Carrier, won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards. Two of Sophie’s crime novels, The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives, have been adapted for television and appeared on ITV1 under the series title Case Sensitive in 2011 and 2012. In 2004, Sophie won first prize in the Daphne Du Maurier Festival Short Story Competition for her suspense story The Octopus Nest, which is now published in her first collection of short stories, The Fantastic Book of Everybody’s Secrets.

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. From 1997 to 1999 she was Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge, and between 1999 and 2001 she was a fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford. She is forty-one and lives with her husband and children in Cambridge, where she is a Fellow Commoner at Lucy Cavendish College. She is currently working on a new challenge for the little grey cells of Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s famous detective.

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