Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Genre: Thrillers
Jeremy Jehu on the latest batch of books to make your pulse race, including Lee Child and Sophie Hannah

By Jeremy Jehu
Published: The Telegraph,  11 May 2010

61 Hours
by Lee Child
394pp, Bantam

With its “Is Jack dead?” ending, this is touted as the first of Lee Child’s 14 Jack Reacher thrillers to close with an unresolved cliffhanger. It isn’t. Last year’s Gone Tomorrow was ramshackle enough to leave discerning fans worried that Child’s creative mojo had kicked the bucket. Fear not.
61 Hours restores a less pompous Reacher to his natural habitat – a snowbound hick town in desperate need of a charismatic drifter to battle both something nasty in the woodshed and something wicked coming its way.
Child has avoided action set pieces in favour of a Hitchcockian escalation of tension. The ticking clock gimmick brings to mind another iconic Jack (Bauer, from the television series 24). This should look silly in print but it works disturbingly well
A Room Swept White
by Sophie Hannah
456pp, Hodder & Stoughton

Sophie Hannah has a poet’s eye, and she creates characters and settings of closely observed complexity in her psychological mysteries. The downside of having to herd so much expectation into a neat resolution is that even Hannah’s fans admit “her endings can be a bit rubbish”.
She has cunningly insured against anticlimax here by creating “a killer who wants to be caught”. But the so-so revelation isn’t meant to thrill so much as summarise a novel in which a television producer reluctantly investigating the serial murders of acquitted “baby killers” confronts a moral paradox: that press hysteria over one judicial miscarriage perverts justice by leaving jurors unwilling to convict the truly guilty.

More at The Telegraph.

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