Review Blog

May 17 2016

The narrow bed... is the waiting grave by Sophie Hannah

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Hodder and Stoughton, 2016. ISBN 9781444776096
(Age: Adult - Senior students) Pairs of friends are being murdered, each having been given a small, handmade book, empty of words but for a few lines of poetry. When comedian Kim Tribbeck hears of this she remembers being given just such a book by a man at one of her shows a year ago. As she tells the Culver Valley police investigation team, she discarded the book and can't remember the venue but, being alive, she is an important link to the killer. However, Kim has no friends, she is famous for her comedy but also for being prickly and unapproachable. Her marriage has failed and she has ended her sexual relationship with another man, why then was she given a book, and why is she still alive? The narration shifts between excerpts from a yet unpublished draft of Kym Tribbeck's memoir interspersed with dated accounts of the murder team's investigation with diversions into their everyday lives and relationships. There are also emails from Kym's publisher, journalism from the ultra-feminist Sondra Halliday and short modern day parables which hint at the killer's motivation.
Sophie Hannah has a number of novels in the Culver Valley police series, some of which have been produced for television so I may have missed some of the back story but I found the police characters a bit sketchy and Sondra Halliday more of a caricature. The main character is convincing and reminded me of the Girl on the train protagonist, damaged and insecure but with a bravery we respect and a dark, self-deprecating humour that keeps the story interesting. The killer is not hard to guess and the motivation a bit strained as is the ending but fans of this author, adults and senior students, will devour it and look for more.
Sue Speck

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