Thursday 26 April 2018

Review: Lasting Damage by Sophie Hannah

Hodder & Stoughton, €16.99, Hardback

Next month as you're channel-surfing, you may find yourself becoming engrossed in an event that thousands of people have been eagerly anticipating.

ITV is showing The Point of Rescue, a two-part psychological thriller starring Olivia Williams that happens to be the first of five TV adaptations of Sophie Hannah's bestselling novels.

Hannah, who is also a poet and children's author, has made a career out of shining a spotlight on the darkest of domestic scenarios. The writer has said that she tries to start her novels with a really puzzling or apparently impossible situation, and that same approach is adopted in her latest one, Lasting Damage.

All of Hannah's offbeat thrillers are packed with intricate twists and turns. In The Point of Rescue, an adulterous woman is stunned to discover her lover isn't who she thought he was, but he does have a missing wife and child. A man confesses to the murder of a woman who isn't dead in The Dead Lie Down while Lasting Damage focuses on a suspicious and increasingly paranoid wife named Connie Bowshill.

At 1.15am Connie, who should be asleep, has logged on to a property website in search of a particular house. She has been obsessed with 11 Bentley Grove in Cambridge since she discovered its address was described as 'home' in her husband's Sat Nav.

It has only just gone on sale, and Connie, keen to put her mind at rest, clicks on the 'Virtual Tour' button.

She finds herself looking at a scene from a nightmare: in the living room, in the middle of the carpet, there's a woman lying face down in a huge pool of blood. In shock, Connie wakes her husband Kit. But when Kit sits down at the computer to take a look, he sees no dead body, only a pristine beige carpet in a perfectly ordinary room.

This was my first experience of Sophie Hannah's gothic thrillers and as I raced through the enthralling tale, I could easily imagine seeing it on screen very soon.

Its numerous twists and turns meant that I had to re-read a page or two just to make sure that I (kind of) knew what was going on. Hannah is a challenging storyteller and anything but predicable. Still Lasting Damage was worth the effort, and the late nights.

I felt quite bereft on reaching the final page. However, newlyweds should certainly approach with caution ...

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