Woman with a Secret by Sophie Hannah

Nicki Clements is a housewife with two kids, and she’s a compulsive liar. woman with a secret

Despite the fact that her home life is reasonably pleasant and her husband good-natured, Nicki lives for her secretive world – one of online affairs with faceless men.  This is her thrill, her turn-on – until a fateful day, when the fear of facing a particular police officer sets her off on a detour that is noticed by public surveillance cameras, the same day notorious op-ed writer Damon Blundy is found murdered in his house.

Nicki needs to establish the identity of her online lover, as she believes he has a connection with the killing.  She does not, however, ingratiate herself with the local police.  They can’t convict her of anything, but her story is shaky, and she doesn’t make the situation any better by lying to them.

Nicki also alienates herself from her former best friend Melissa, now her brother’s wife.  She can no longer confide with Melissa, who has firmly aligned herself with her husband and Nicki’s parents, whom Nicki avoids as much as possible.

Interlaced with Nicki’s tale of woe and deception is the procedural itself, the police detectives being a small cast of characters with the main focus on Simon Waterhouse and his wife Charlie Zailer.  They banter, argue, and ultimately, solve the crime, after interviewing a wide-ranging batch of suspects including a former British politician known for scandal, a horror writer, and a former athlete, all of whom have received barbs from Blundy’s incendiary opinion columns.

Woman with a Secret starts out slow, and is very British-y (which I like), but the suspense level soon ratchets up nicely, and you will be wondering right up to the last few pages.  Nicki isn’t the only one with secrets.

This is the latest Zailer & Waterhouse thriller; there are several more.  Sophie Hannah also got the nod from the Agatha Christie estate to write The Monogram Murders, which continues the escapades of detective Hercule Poirot.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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