Monday, August 5, 2013

Mixed Feelings for "Domestic Thriller" by Sophie Hannah--Too Many Dysfunctional Characters In One Family???

"Something flashes and dissolves in my mind. A fraction of a second later, no traces are left, apart from a vague sense of movement quickly swallowed by stillness. The first stage of remembering, or nothing. Probably nothing, I decide. Naive to assume that a memory would lay itself bare in stages, like a stripper.
"What do I obsess about? Sharon's death. What's going to happen about Dinah and Nonie. Little Orchard. Sleep. What I need to tell Luke but can't...
"Was I brooding about one of these things when I saw a page with "Kind, Cruel, Kind of Cruel" written on it? If so, that hardly helps to narrow it down.
"Ginny made an interesting point about nostalgia," Sergeant Zailer tells me... "She said nostalgic people yearn for the past for a good reason--because they missed it, they weren't full there when they should have been, when it was the present. They deprive themselves of the "now" experiences that are rightfully theirs. They they feel cheated and try to recapture what they missed, and miss more of the present in the process. It's a vicious circle."
"Too neat, too formulaic," I say dismissively. "Has to be made up, like the conscious/unconscious mind stuff..."
                                                                      ~~~

Kind of Cruel

By Sophie Hannah



I would have probably stopped reading this novel, if I hadn't selected it via the Vine, so I kept on reading about what I considered to be the most dysfunctional family members in one novel ever... Of course, you could say that they were well created since I was so reactive, right? So maybe you won't be surprised that later on, I was hooked, tightly, to see how this ended... This turns out to be one of the most involved psychological thrillers I've read... What? Well, it had to be with so many dysfunctional people! Then I found this...
The genius of Hannah’s domestic thrillers – along with the twistiest plots known to woman – is that she creates ordinary people whose psychological quirks make them as monstrous as any serial killer.’ Guardian
Domestic thrillers. First time I've heard that as well... And I have to agree with this excerpt. Still, I'm not sure I really enjoyed it... Maybe it was just a little to "close to home" since it centers on family and extended family members, along with the police and victims... So, you'll have to decide whether you keep reading for the puzzle and suspense as opposed to the characters. That's what I found intriguing, because Hannah surely keeps you guessing! I learned quite a bit since a hypnotherapist is a main character. I was intrigued that the woman said that hypnosis does not normally result in going under and that the individual normally knows what is going on and remembers. I don't know about you, but this was just about the opposite of what I've always heard.

And the way and length of her trying to put the individual under seemed to be excessive... I once asked a
psychologist to try hypnosis for weight loss...she never got me under and declared that I was one of those individuals who will not relinquish control. I wonder now about which counselor was right. This author is apparently known for many novels in this genre, but It's my first read for her and I'd love to know more about her educational credentials.  Anyway...

"Tell me about your sleeping problem," Ginny says. "After that buildup, I'm expecting a horror story. There's a wooden level under the arm of your chair, if you want to lie back."
"I don't want to, but I do it anyway, putting my feet up on the footstool so that I'm almost
horizontal. It's easier if I can't see her face; I can pretend I'm talking to a recorded voice.
"So. Are you the world's worst-afflicted insomniac?"
"Is she mocking me? I can't help noticing I'm not in any kind of trance yet. When is she going to get started? We've got less than an hour.
"No," I say stiffly. "I'm better off than people who never sleep. I sleep for stretches of fifteen, twenty minutes at a time, on and off throughout the night...
"Okay, that's great." Ginny says. "You're doing great." I hear a slight sharpening in her tone, and I know the moment has come: audience participation time. "Now I'd like you to let a memory come into your mind, and tell me about it. Any memory, from any time in your life. Don't analyze it. It doesn't have to be significant. What are you remembering, right now?
"Sharon. I can't say that. Unless I've misunderstood, Ginny wants something new from me now, not leftovers from the last exercise.
""Don't try to select something good," she says in her regular voice. "Anything will do."
"Right. Nice to know how little all this matters.
Not Sharon and her burning house. Not unless you want to leave here in pieces. Little Orchard, then. The story of my disappearing relatives. No death, no tragedy, only a never-to-be-solved mystery. I open my mouth, then remember that Ginny told me not to pick something good. Little Orchard is too showy and attention seeking. She won't believe it genuinely "came up," and she'll be right. It's permanently "up" in my mind, I wonder about it constantly...
"Oh God, this is a nightmare. What should I say? Anything, anything. "Kind, Cruel. Kind of Cruel"
"What does that mean?
"Can you repeat that?" says Ginny.
"This is really strange. What just happened? Ginny said something odd, but why would she ask me to repeat it? I wasn't paying attention; my mind must have drifted off for a second, back to Little Orchard, or to Sharon....
"Can you repeat those words?"
"Kind. Cruel. Kind of Cruel," I say, not sure I've got it right. "What does it mean?" Is it a magic spell, designed to drag recalcitrant memories to the surface?
"You tell me," says Ginny.
"How can I? You were the one who said it."
"No, I didn't. You said it."
"There's a long pause. Why am I still horizontal, with my eyes closed? I ought to sit up and insist that this stranger stop lying about me. "You said it," I snap, annoyed that I should have to convince her when she must know the truth as well as I do." And then you asked me to repeat it."
"All right, Amber, I'm going to count to five to bring out out of hypnosis...When I reach five, I want you to open your eyes..."
       ~~~

Amber Hewerdine was not sleeping for more than an hour for about 18 months. At that time, her friend Sharon had died when her home was burned down. But before the blaze was set, a fireman had come into the house and carried her two daughters outside and told them to run...

The girls were now living with Amber and Luke, her husband, who were trying to officially adopt them against the wishes of Sharon's mother.

Amber had gone to a hypnotherapist for her insomnia, hoping she could quickly be hypnotized and sleeping again...

Coincidentally, she met Detective Charlotte Zailer who was also waiting to see the counselor for smoking. Neither of them could have guessed what that chance meeting would lead to...

Under hypnosis, Amber had responded to a request for the first  memory she recalled, which she immediately knew she didn't want to share. Instead, she said: Kind, Cruel, Kind of Cruel.

Charlie Zailer's husband, Simon Waterhouse, was presently involved in a homicide. Those words had been found at the home of the murder of a local teacher who had been beaten to death. Simon soon learned about Amber and was being interviewed as part of the homicide investigation. As Amber explained to her therapist, to Charlie and to Simon, she had no idea what those words meant. Ultimately, however, she remembered that she'd seen them on a lined piece of paper--somewhere!

As an insomniac, Amber had many hours to sleep after her family had gone to bed. She finally accepted that she had said those words, but what did they mean and, when she realized that she'd seen them written down, she couldn't rest until she knew where!

Of course, the police were just as anxious to learn more... It seemed to be the only clue that could identify the killer. Fortunately, Simon didn't think she was the one who had committed the murder, so he began to work with her as much as possible, even sitting in on some of the hypnotherapy sessions...

While all this is going on, readers learn all about Amber's family, her extended family through her husband, and a secret she had shared with one of them... I didn't think it was hard to figure out the guilty individual, so let me know if you did too! The why sure was...convoluted though...

A fascinating interaction between Zailer and Waterhouse, after whom the series is named, brings hidden background to both Zailer and readers and, of course, it was discussed with the hypnotherapist who rendered her valuable opinion...Wonder what will be the followup!

If you are into family drama, I think you'll find much to "get into" with this novel. But do read other reviews. Like I said, I have mixed feelings for this one...


GABixlerReviews


Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling writer of psychological crime fiction, published in 24 countries. Her novels have been shortlisted for several awards, including, most recently, Kind of Cruel’sshortlisting for the 2012 Specsavers National Book Awards Crime Thriller of the Year. Two of Sophie’s crime novels, The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives, have been adapted for television and appeared on ITV1 under the series title Case Sensitive in 2011 and 2012.
In 2004, Sophie won first prize in the Daphne Du Maurier Festival Short Story Competition for her suspense story The Octopus Nest, which is now published in her first collection of short stories, The Fantastic Book of Everybody’s Secrets. Sophie has also published five collections of poetry. Her fifth,Pessimism for Beginners, was shortlisted for the 2007 T S Eliot Award. Her poetry is studied at GCSE, A-level and degree level across the UK. From 1997 to 1999 she was Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge, and between 1999 and 2001 she was a fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford. She is forty-one and lives with her husband and children in Cambridge, where she is a Fellow Commoner at Lucy Cavendish College.

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