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I picked this book up on a whim - had never heard of the author, never heard of the book, but thought I'd give it a try. I'm glad I did because it was pretty enjoyable.
'Kind Of Cruel,' is a crime novel with a heavy lean towards the psychological, making the plot fascinating and less predictable then more well-worn subsections of the crime genre. The quality of the writing was good, and the characters, for all their uniqueness (and sometimes bizarreness,) were pretty believable.
The main character, Amber, is trying to remember where she has seen the words 'Kind, Cruel, Kind of Cruel,' before - words which are the only slim lead in a murder investigation. And what on earth does it have to do with a holiday home the family stayed in several years before? These mysteries keep you reading and guessing right along with Amber and the police presence, Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer (glimpses into the dysfunctional life of Simon and Charlie - who are married - are also pretty compelling.)
The main issue that I have with this novel is that the voice used to narrate switches in a sometimes confusing way. We have Amber first person, we have omnipotent narrative, we have a third voice (the voice that starts the novel,) which I assumed at first to also be Amber but turns out to be another character. I assume this wasn't done on purpose because I see no reason for it to have been, as all it does is confuse and slightly disorientate.
This novel is also so very, very, British, that it came as no surprise that many of the author's works have been adapted by ITV; it has that school-gate 'in our village!' kind of feel that reminds me (only a little) of Midsomer Murders. Luckily, unlike Midsomer Murders, it's a little more grounded in the realms of reality and plausibility (the bizarre nature of some of the character's actions is explained through psychological means rather than just left to be ignored in favour of the plot.)
It was generally an enjoyable read, something for those who are bored of the same old crime fiction repeated again and again; I would definitely read another book by this author in future.
It is so nice to read a mystery novel where you don't see the ending coming from the start but this is the case with Sophie Hannah's exciting tale. The culprit of the mysterious goings on is clearly hinted at part way through the story but it is the motive behind them that keeps you guessing. Arguably, this is because when the solution does arrive it is somewhat farfetched however, its a beautiful twist which will leave you just the right level of surprised and satisfied with the conclusion.
The story centres around Amber Hewerdine; an insomniac, who goes to a hypnotherapist as a last resort and whilst 'under' utters the words "kind, cruel, kind of cruel". She does not understand the significance of these words nor in fact remember where she has seen or heard them before but when she unwittingly reveals to a police officer what she said she finds that they are the only clue in an otherwise dead end murder case. This in itself is an ingenious idea as it leaves the reader wondering what these words mean, what relevance they have to the case and why they would come to Amber in a state of hypnosis.
In a similar fashion there are a number of seemingly unconnected unanswered questions throughout the story which not only give the reader a desire to find the answer but also to discover how they all connect.
The book is written in a largely simple style making it accessible and easy to keep turning the pages.