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Sophie Hannah: Kind of Cruel
Nothing is quite capable of holding a reader's attention as much as a well-written, fast-paced psychological thriller. Sophie Hannah's latest novel Kind of Cruel is a riveting story that will keep you guessing till the very end.
Suffering from chronic insomnia, Amber Hewerdine reluctantly seeks the help of hypnotherapy as a last resort. While under hypnosis, Amber blurts out the words "kind, cruel, kind of cruel”.
Amber is sure she only uttered them because she saw them scribbled on a notepad outside the hypnotherapist's office. However, it turns out that these words were scribbled on a pad in the room of Katharine Allen; a woman who has been atrociously murdered and whom Amber has never heard of before.
Given the fact that the police can't find any clues to the murder of Katharine, Amber is arrested. Amber believes she holds the key to solving the murder investigation deep within her subconscious, but having uttered the few words that sent her life spiralling out of control, her situation doesn't bode well.
Hannah explores the reasons behind Amber's insomnia. Amber loses her best friend Sharon, inherits her two kids and is now responsible for raising them with her husband, Luke. As Amber delves deeper into her mind and repressed memories rise to the surface, her life and the lives of those around her are put on the line.
Hannah brilliantly weaves several mysteries together, and the outcome is nothing short of a nail-biting page-turner. She doesn't give away much throughout the entire novel, but the small clues she lays out fall into place perfectly at the end.
Many police officers from the author's previous novels show up in Kind of Cruel. Charlie and Simon are two detectives whose relationship has always been mysterious in previous novels but has been explained in this novel.
Amber is the main protagonist, but the author flits between perspectives and allows other characters to put in their thoughts as well. She knows how to use her characters well to serve the whole of the story. And although Kind of Cruel features many characters, each of them plays an integral role in the story.
We would have liked Hannah to withhold revealing the identity of the killer a bit further, since she follows it up with a profuse explanation of his motives and psyche. Hannah's writing is witty, intelligent and forceful. Kind of Cruel is a thought-provoking novel that lives up to the author’s previous works.
A simple online search would give you a chronological account of the Egyptian revolution; accurate dates, death tolls and perhaps even the names of the martyrs. But it will not tell you how it made the Egyptian people feel. Statistics can't describe what the families of the martyrs went through and it cannot accurately express the weight placed on the hearts of millions of Egyptians during this time.
Soueif doesn't ignore the violence perpetrated by the regime against protestors; she also mentions those who have lost their lives. She has kept in mind that by the time readers received her book a lot would have changed, so she frequently refers to the fact that we – her readers – would know more about the current situation than she did while writing it.
As she walks down every street, she supplements her story with memories and anecdotes from her childhood and adolescence, adding an emotional and personal dimension to her book and making it easy for readers to imagine why she is still attached to Cairo despite her long years in London.
The book is a refreshing spin on a now-over-a-year-old revolution. It brings hope. Soueif's sharp senses have led her to assume that by the time the book hits bookshelves, hope would still be the number one motivation and that's how she writes; invoking hope and persistence in the hearts of her readers.
The first impression of main character Abby, a freshman at university, is that she’s a goody-two-shoes and seems to have a reserved, shy personality. She is just starting a new independent life as a student far away from home, but her peace of mind is soon disturbed when she meets Travis; an underground fighter who goes to the same school. He's the kind of guy that every girl should avoid but still dreams of taming. With tattooed arms, the rebellious enigma captures Abby's attention instantly and though he has trouble written all over him, she can't help but get sucked into his world.
But on the other hand, Travis is also somewhat spellbound by Abby's innocence. What he doesn't know, and neither do we at the time, is that he’s in for a surprise; with a sharp tongue and a strong personality, Abby manages to charm the bad boy into submission. As the story progresses, we see Abby building a shield to protect herself from being another challenge that Travis conquers. Frustrated with Abby, Travis is forced to comply with her strict rules and settles for being ‘her friend’.
The novel takes an unusual turn when Abby loses a bet with Travis and is forced to live with him for a whole month. The lines between innocent friendship and love become blurred and as the story goes on, McGuire gradually delves deeper into Abby's fears and the dark past that is still hunting her.
Jumping up the New York Times bestselling charts soon after being published, Beautiful Disaster is much more than a just another romance novel.
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Born in 1971, Sophie Hannah is a British poet and bestselling novelist. Having received her degree from the University of Manchester, her poetry is taught at GCSE, A-level and degree level across the UK. Kind of Cruel is her seventh psychological thriller.