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Hurting Distance - Sophie Hannah

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Author: Sophie Hannah / Genre: Crime / Thriller

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

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      28.07.2012 00:49
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      Hmm.... I'll leave that to you.

      I recently read the first novel by Sophie Hannah called Little Face and was pleasantly surprised. I then ordered another in the series called Hurting Distance and awaited more shocks and thrills. Following on from Little Face we are in the same town with the same detective, DS Charlie Zailer, DC Simon Waterhouse, Gibbs and Sellers.

      The first part of Hurting Distance is actually very well written. Sophie Hannah seems to have got a good grasp for the plot she wanted to create, and seems to be in sync with the main character, Naomi Jenkins. Naomi has been seeing a married man called Robert Haworth and every Thursday they meet at the same hotel and delight in adult activities. She is sure that he will leave his wife, Juliet, soon who he feels sorry for because she is weak and would fall to pieces if he left. Robert also told Naomi never to go to his house, ever.

      One Thursday Robert simply does not turn up at the hotel, despite him being obsessive about their plans. He is the type of person you would bank with he is that trustworthy, or so it seems. Naomi knows something has happened to him, but she has no idea what. One unique feature of Hurting Distance is that Naomi's entries are usually talking to Robert, which can be slightly weird at first but later on you feel like you are in the middle of a love triangle gone horribly wrong.

      Naomi is a sly character in my eyes. If I knew her personally I would not trust her, but as a main character in a plot this is exactly what I want. Naomi knows what she wants and how to get it and in my eyes that equals dangerous. Nevertheless, she is the most stable character in the book, except of course Simon Waterhouse.

      It is also quite a weird scenario that she finds herself in. I know that some people have affairs with married people, but Naomi genuinely believes that Robery will leave Juliet soon. In fact she thinks it will be any day now. As a reader we know that will never happen because we are not stupid, and that is credit to Sophie Hannah's writing skills.

      Charlie Zailer is even more distubed in Hurting Distance. I tell you if there are any Detective Sargeants out there who are as messed up as she is then I worry, seriously, for the police forces around the country. I don't quite know how she gets away with it, especially with a boss like Proust, who is a typical grumpy, obsessive, annoying boss. He is the type that will pick up every little mistake, and Charlie makes a lot of them.

      She is still reeling from not being with Simon, that is her problem. The problem has been made worse by the fact that Simon said he may call Alice (Little Face) and see how she is getting on. Charlie has taken this as he wants to pursue a relationship with her. In the end he doesn't even call her, but her anxiety causes her to do some desperate things, that could result in her losing her job.

      Charlie made up a boyfriend to spite Simon and called him Graham. On her trip away to Scotland she meets a Graham and instantly forms an attachment to him, really because his name is Graham, in my opinion. Because she is so keen to start a relationship she doesn't realize that she is actually getting involved with a dangerous rapist.

      I found this book weird. I'm going to be honest. I cannot say I enjoyed it because I didn't. I managed to read through until the end because the writing was good and I wanted to find out who it was and why. I would recommend it for those reasons but just be warned it will make you feel like you have been cheated. By that I mean of time, it will seem like you knew the answer in the first few pages, yet wasted time on the whole book. Having said that, without reading the book you would not get to explore the characters and their weird ways.

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        26.04.2010 00:13
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        Part of a series of detective novels - read them in order!

        This is the second book I've read by this author and unfortunately I haven't read them in chronological order so I knew fairly early on "whodunnit" as the later book had already revealed this.

        The book opens with successful businesswoman Naomi worried by the disappearance of her married lover Robert who cannot get the local police to investigate thoroughly particularly given that his wife claims he isn't missing at all. To get the police to take her seriously Naomi decides that she will have to persuade the police that Robert is a dangerous criminal by describing a horrific incident he was responsible for, the details she uses are those of a traumatic episode in her past.

        This is part of a series of books which feature the same team of detectives but I didnt find the relationships between police colleagues, or police and suspects totally believable and although I still enjoyed the book (while already knowing what was going to happen in the end) I am not a total fan of Hannah's style of writing. That said, I would recommend this book and will read others she's written but will check I'm reading them in the correct order from now on!

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        08.06.2009 10:55
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        Recommended read

        Hurting Distance is the second crime novel by best-selling author Sophie Hannah. Released in 2007 it is a fantastic psychological thriller that is wonderfully written. Sophie Hannah is a poet and author who has a unique and enthralling style of writing.

        ~Plot~
        Naomi Jenkins is a successful self-employed businesswoman whose world is turned upside down when her married lover, Robert Haworth, fails to turn up for their weekly tryst at Traveltel. Naomi is terrified that something is amiss especially as the police seem unwilling to help. She has to convince DS Charlie Zailer and DC Simon Waterhouse that something has happened to her lover. DS Zailer has problems of her own which are forced into the limelight as the story progresses. As the mystery becomes more complex Naomi is forced to revisit a horrific event in her past in her quest to make the police listen. But how far will she go to find Robert?.

        ~Style~
        The narrative mode changes frequently from first person, as Naomi tells her story, to third person as we witness the actions of the police, particularly of Charlie Zailer . The distinction is also shown in the style of writing which is much more emotive and less logical when in the perspective of Naomi. There is occasionally a glimpse into the mind of Charlie Zailer but much of the third person narrative is informative and plot-building creating the suspense in the book.

        I really enjoyed "Hurting Distance" and found it had a lot more to offer than many crime books. It contains suspense, drama, romance and also the occasional bout of comedy. It is not very graphic at all and there is no blood and gore which, although it doesn't bother me, can be off-putting for some. I didn't find the book frightening but certainly a little disconcerting and chilling. The plot is complex and intelligently devised but still easy to follow. It doesn't try to be too clever for its own good and you understand everything that happens. Nevertheless I was still genuinely suprised by the twists and impressed by the ending. It tied up the story well whilst still leaving me with something to muse over.
        My only slight problem is that I never felt really sympathetic to the character of Naomi Jenkins. Despite being a victim I felt she was still portrayed as a little bit of a bunny boiler throughout the story. However, the strong plot and large array interesting and individual characters mean that this is just a minor problem.

        I finished Hurting Distance in one sitting as it was such a gripping read. I would recommend it for all fans of Crime fiction but think that those who enjoy a love story with a bit of a twist will enjoy it too. An excellent story and I'm looking forward to more fiction from Sophie Hannah.

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          11.03.2009 16:46
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          Good psychological thriller.

          I have previously reviewed the first Sophie Hannah novel I read and thoroughly enjoyed, so thought I would now review the second.

          I must admit I was looking forward to reading this book, as I love it when I find a new author I like, and after reading 'Little Face' I couldn't wait to read her next novel 'Hurting Distance'.
          I wasn't disappointed, it was every bit as much enjoyable as 'Little Face' and another page-turner I could not put down until I had finished.

          A good point is that we are re-introduced to Detectives Zailer and Waterhouse and again we follow the sub- storyline of their chemistry and feelings for each other.
          Although these characters feature in the previous novel, this does not mean you have to read the previous one first! It is very much a stand alone novel.



          The story is about Naomi Jenkins - a woman with a secret.....and a married lover, Robert Haworth, whom she is passionately in love with.

          Suddenly, Robert just disappears without any warning and Naomi is convinced something terrible must have happened to him. She does not believe for one second that he has decided to end their affair and not contact her again, and eventually goes to the police. However, she has trouble getting Detective Charlie Zailer to believe her, especially as Robert's wife insists he is not missing!
          Desperate to find him, Naomi comes up with an idea - what if she can convince the police he is a danger to others, then surely they will have to find him?

          It states on the back of the book "Naomi knows how to describe the actions of a psychopath to the police... she only has to dig up her own traumatic past...."
          So Naomi accuses Robert of rape - the police will have to find him now!
          The police remain unconvinced, but have to act, and Naomi also produces letters she wrote to a rape survival group 'Speak Out and Survive' to back up her allegations.

          The book is descibed as "a twisted tale of obsessive love", which is an accurate description . I found myself changing my mind constantly about Naomi whilst reading the book, from not liking her character, to having some sympathy, and from thinking she was just a normal average woman to thinking she was unstable.
          The character of Robert, I found strange from the start, and found myself wondering why Naomi got involved with him, but then would change my mind to wondering why Robert got involved with Naomi, as my opinions of what sort of people they really were, changed completely.
          I was very quickly drawn into this book and there are a few twists and turns before the ending, that I could not predict, which is what I enjoy when reading a thriller or crime novel.

          Sophie Hannah pays a lot of attention to her characters, and the characters of Detectives Zailer and Waterhouse continue to build throughout her novels. Zailer - a forthright, stubborn and independent woman, who I felt is afraid to let her guard down, and Waterhouse, who seems a nice average guy, but afraid to let his true feelings for Zailer really show.
          This leads to the pair, who both obviously have strong feelings for each other, but trying not to let it show, which leads to quite a lot of tension at times, and is brilliantly portrayed by Hannah.

          Anyone who enjoys a psychological thriller with the same Detectives in each novel will no doubt enjoy this and want to read her other novels.
          I can highly recommend this author.

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            16.02.2009 16:29
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            It might be more your cup of tea that mine

            Hurting distance is a book I bought from Amazon because of the reviews on here, and it seemed like my kind of book. It has rape, murder, mystery and two women whom it appears do not know the meaning of truth...which led me to believe that it would be a fairly gripping book...yes, I have a morbid taste in books. I have to admit, I was rather disappointed.

            ===Boring Stuff===
            Title: Hurting Distance
            Author: Sophie Hannah
            Price: RRP £6.99, Amazon £1.50 at time of writing.
            ISBN: 978-0-340-84034-4
            Publisher: Hodder

            ===Basic story===
            Naomi Jenkins is one of the main characters and much of the story is told through her eyes, and shows her thought processes as well as her actions. She is portrayed as a fairly compulsive and slightly insane character, who is very private and difficult to get to know, let alone like. It becomes obvious very early on in the novel that she has been through hell earlier in her life when she was raped by a group of men. She is having an affair with a married man, who she adores with all her heart, but suddenly he disappears, he doesn't turn up to their set meetings and he doesn't answer her calls. This in itself doesn't sound that major, considering that it cannot be that rare for a man having an affair to suddenly decide that this isn't such a good idea anymore, and take the cowards way out in not explaining it to his mistress. But Naomi is certain that this is not what has happened, she is certain that he is too anal for this, and would at the very least told her. So she goes to the police and it is here that the plot thickens.

            The main detective in the story is Detective Charlie Zailer, and much like the reader she originally dismisses Naomi as massively over-reacting, and doesn't make any great effort to find this man.
            However, Naomi is certain that that he would not do this to her, and so she thinks up a new plan, one which has so many flaws in it that it could be made of Leerdammer cheese! But as the back of the novel says, 'Naomi knows how to describe in detail the actions of a psychopath. All she needs to do is dig up her own traumatic past', and so this is what she does. I am not spoiling the plot in saying this as it occurs very early in the novel, although it seems like it should be a later part of a novel. She accuses the man who she loves of rape, knowing that if the police will not chase an innocent, missing man, they will certainly try their best to find a dangerous psychopath, who could be a risk to the public. However much the police are not certain as to whether to believe her, they have no chance but to follow up this formal accusation, and she uses the letter she wrote to a rape survivors group called 'Speak out and Survive' as a certain amount of proof to her claims. And the plot thickens further.

            This novel is not so much an action packed police chase, far more a very complicated psychological thriller, in which much of the attention is focussed on the main characters thoughts and reasons why they act in such ways.

            ===Style===
            As I said before this is a psychological thriller, and because of this you cannot easily compare it to any of the normal murder mysteries, which are far faster moving and often focus less on character development. This could be either a good thing or a bad thing depending on the style of book that you prefer, personally I found it far too slow for my liking. Sophie Hannah spends the first quarter of the novel developing and expanding the characters without any real plot development, which makes the early book difficult to read and easy to put down. The only reason I continued reading it is because I was curious to see what actually happened when the author did start her story.

            ===Characters===
            A lot of time is spent by Sophie Hannah in creating 'real' characters, however, to a point this falls through, much like her style. This is because it is very difficult for you to understand why Naomi acts as she does, even with her reasoning spelt out for you. As a reader you are meant to have a certain amount and even empathy for the main character in a novel, however, this fails in respect to Naomi because you cannot understand her, and she comes across more as neurotic, manipulative and almost insane than a character to be sympathetic towards. Even the main detective is difficult to like, as although you can see where she is coming from, many of her actions border on the pathetic, when she should be seen as at the very least professional. The wife of the 'missing man' is as manipulative as Naomi is, and the rest of the characters are not truly developed. The only character who I found that I could like was the superintendent, and he was the character that a reader of the book was meant to dislike. Maybe it's just me, but much like Dr Kelso in Scrubs I found that I actually liked him, no matter how much he is presented as a cold hearted, temperamental and difficult man.

            Even with the main plot areas where the actions of some are evil beyond doubt, the author never truly explores the motives and morals of any of the characters. This in itself disappointed me because I expect that sort of attention to be given to these areas in a psychological thriller. Although the author has tried to make her characters 'real' she has failed, because many of them are inherently dislikeable and because she gives no good reasoning for her actions. If you take Naomi stating to the police that this man has raped her, you can see the desperation that has led her to this, but equally, it is difficult to understand the actions of someone who seems to have so little awareness of the consequences of her own actions.

            ===So why read it?===
            After I've spent all this time moaning about the books shortcomings, you must be wondering why I continued to read the novel at all. The first and most simple answer is that I hate to put a book down when I have started it, it is almost an obligation to finish the book which nags at me. But the second reason does pertain to the novel, however much I felt like I was ploughing through tar at some points, I really wanted to know what happened and how everything turned out. The twists that are introduced into the novel are at turns shocking and horrifying, and slowly as the full picture emerges it is very difficult to put it down. I wanted to know where this would lead, and as the clues and hints slowly kicked into place in my brain I desperately wanted to know if I was moving along the correct lines. And so, I kept reading, and as the book progressed into the later half or quarter of the book I found that I was enjoying it, almost despite myself by this point.

            ===Conclusion===
            I cannot say that this is a ripping yarn that will keep you clued to the pages at all times, because it isn't. It is more a mix of psychological thriller and police mystery, which has attempted to straddle the borders of both...and failed. However, the storyline itself is very interesting, once you actually get into the storyline, and because of the amount of mystery in it there is the reaction of wanting to know what is going on. Other people have given this book very high ratings, but I found it too difficult to wade through for that. But it might be worth a look, if you can overcome its shortcomings.

            And crikey, I have a review under 1500 words...I think I'm going to go and check to see if I'm ill!

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              15.12.2008 20:10
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              A compelling tale that goes deep into the psyche.

              This is an excellent novel: well plotted, engaging, disturbing and convincing.

              The 'secret' mentioned in the blurb is revealed in the email printed before the start of the first chapter and is key to the novel, but not in the way you would expect. Naomi Jenkins was raped three years ago but has decided that she is a survivor; she has told no one of her ordeal and has found herself a lover, albeit a married man. The email suggests a very individual response to feelings and situations, which is bourne out as soon as the reader hears her voice. Naomi's first person narrative, which is interspersed throughout the dominant third person narrative, is addressed to a 'you', her missing lover, and engages the reader immediately as she seeks to explain why she has broken the only promise she ever made him. Initially an unsympathetic character - obsessive, devious, imperious - she gradually evolves into a heroine of sorts as the novel develops and she responds more personally to her past.

              Detective Charlie Zailer initially dismisses Naomi's worries as unfounded and ridiculous, thinking she is just another woman who can't accept that her lover has returned to his wife. In fact, Charlie goes on holiday, a fact which may seem irrelevant but, in this tightly plotted novel, becomes anything but. This leads to Naomi's daring act: she confesses her truth, twisted into a lie, and forces the police to investigate this 'disappearance' fully. Their subsequent initial discovery creates more questions which neither Naomi nor her lover's wife seems willing to answer. All three women endure emotional difficulties, although they often seem firmly in control of what they choose to reveal to others. This creates a more engaging plot as the reader tries to identify with their feelings and actions.

              The baddies are also carefully developed. Although not initially obvious, their earlier actions and dialogue allow the reader to think 'of course' when their role is revealed. The casual attitude some of them take towards their action is terrifying, far more so than if they reveled in their own evil; they do not seem to recognize their actions as wrong and respond to mundane points in typically mundane ways: here is evil made appallingly human. Ultimately the novel is not about what has been done to Naomi, but what is being done to her and the lengths that one person can stretch to hurt another.

              Revelations are gradual and always believable, supported by relevant dialogue which fleshes out the characters and relevant history. Even the seemingly obligatory (for this genre) showdown in which the criminal confesses his motives to the potential final victim is largely believable. Twists continue until the final few pages, making this compelling reading. Even those twists which you can predict are thoughtfully unfolded, revealing more than anticipated in their execution. Chapters typically end, James Patterson style, on a dramatic cliffhanger that you need resolved.

              Dialogue forms a large part of the novel and flows neatly, perhaps due to the author's practice in poetry. This contrasts sharply to the chapters narrated by Naomi, where her thoughts often seem clipped by contrast, consisting of largely simple sentences beginning with 'I'. This helps to create a distinct voice for the character but also slows the pace slightly.

              A surprising but very enjoyable element of the novel was the occasional flashes of comedy. Proust, in particular, seems to be the focus of much humour as he over-reacts to situations, although his character is far from one-dimensional. The humour never detracts from the seriousness of the situations, but does provide a welcome respite from the often emotionally draining atmosphere.

              Overall, this is a compelling read in which the author rarely hits a wrong note. As soon as I had finished I reread key sections of the narrative to fully appreciate the skilful storytelling. Be prepared to set aside a large chunk of your day to read it in one sitting!

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                28.10.2007 15:45
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                Great Author, great book.

                Hurting Distance - Sophie Hannah

                I bought this book at my local Tesco on a buy two for £7.00 deal and it was well worth it.

                I’m an avid reader and have read about 12 books this month of all different types. I tend to pick books by reading the back cover and then the first page and if it grips me immediately then I can’t leave it behind.

                The back of this book says “Three years ago, something terrible happened to Naomi Jenkins – so terrible she never told anyone” and the first page is an email she has written to a website called “Speak out and Survive”; you know then from the first page what Naomi’s secret is, she’s been raped. No I’m not giving the plot away, far from it, that’s what I thought as well when I read it. I then though oh well; I’ll give it a go anyway.

                The next chapter is about a man she is deeply in love with and how they met, blah de blah blah, well that was my feeling as I was reading it, I thought it was going to be a very slow book with no real story and berated myself for picking a book from an author I’d never heard of before. Before I knew it I was halfway through the book and couldn’t put it down. I’m not telling you what’s in it, where’s the fun in that, I can only describe this author as the new Danielle Steele of Crime Thriller authors.

                This book is about deep psychological torture within a world where everything else seems normal. It’s about a woman who is very private and thinks she is very strong, in fact her life is a lie and she doesn’t know it. Her story is deeper and more profoundly disturbing than you could possibly expect from a victim of a crime of this nature. The twists and turns in this book are numerous, every time I thought “I’d sussed it”; there was another twist or another lie unravelled.

                Hurting distance is a psychologically unsettling crime thriller where there has been more than one crime committed and I was never sure of who had done what or why they had done it. Sophie Hannah added some really interesting facts throughout this book and I learnt some fascinating details about some everyday objects.

                Another bit from the back of the book says “Naomi knows how to describe in detail the actions of a psychopath. All she needs to do is dig up her own traumatic past”

                It’s obvious from page one that there is rape involved in this book, it seems to be the entire book and yet none of it, it’s creepy and disturbing but you’ll need to find out for yourself. I will say this, the rape scene is written in a much understated way, so that you know it’s the reason for the story and not the story itself. I was glad of this as I don’t really want to be reading about the violence involved in rape. Instead it’s about the psychological effects it has on the victim and how it affects their life and others around them with a twist only someone with a brilliant brain could have come up with.

                Very powerful stuff indeed!

                Sophie Hannah managed to keep me in suspense right to the end. In fact so much so that when I had to put the book down only four pages from finishing because the telephone rang, I thought that was that, the last twist was revealed and it was just epilogue; well I was wrong. The last pages exposed the story to its final depth in an understated but strong finale that made me nod my head and smile. Ahh a good ending at last, don’t you hate a good read that has a rubbish ending, well this doesn’t.

                I’d never heard of Sophie Hannah before but I’m really glad I’ve found her, I’ll be buying her previous book “Little Face” about a mother that goes out for two hours only to come home and insist the baby in the cot is a stranger she has never seen before and her next book due out in February 2008 which is about a woman who has her work trip cancelled and goes anyway, not telling her husband, all is well until she is involved in an accident and strange things start to happen. Oh I can’t wait.

                After reading this I went on the internet to find out a little about her:

                Sophie Hannah was born in 1971 in Manchester. She currently teaches at Manchester Metropolitan University's Writing School. She was awarded an Eric Gregory Award in 1995 and was a Patron for the Swansea Year of Literature in the same year. She is the author of several novels, including Gripless, Cordial and Corrosive, The Superpower of Love, and the psychological thriller, Little Face; she also writes for children and is the author of several collections of poetry, including Hotels Like Houses, which was awarded an Arts Council Writers' Award, and Leaving and Leaving You. Her most recent collection of poetry is Pessimism for Beginners

                Sophie Hannah lives in West Yorkshire. In 2004, she was named as one of the Poetry Book Society's 'Next Generation' poets.

                To me she is now one of my favored authors.

                ISBN 978-0-340-84034-4
                Publisher: Hodder.
                RRP £6.99

                Sheena McCowan 2007.

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