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Hannah, Sophie - 'Little Face'
Flipback Paperback: 576 pages (Sep. 2011) Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton ISBN: 1444730452

Alice Fancourt is a new mother. She is persuaded to go out for the first time after a difficult birth, leaving her precious baby with her husband. When she returns she finds the front door open, her husband asleep on their bed and her daughter missing. Another baby girl has been left in the cot.

Nobody believes Alice. Her mother-in-law and her husband assure police that the baby girl hasn't been swapped, that Alice must be having a breakdown. Then Alice and the baby go missing and the police have to take the case seriously. DC Simon Waterhouse is the only one that gives any credence to Alice's story so when she and the baby go missing he is very quick to suspect David Fancourt, her husband. When the murder of Laura Cryer, David's first wife is linked to the new case, Simon is even more certain that David is guilty in some way. Sergeant Charlie Zailer was in charge of the murder case and was instrumental in seeing a suspect charged and found guilty at the subsequent trial. As far as she is concerned Laura's murder has nothing to do with Alice's disappearance, but Simon persists in questioning the verdict and the confession of the suspect putting their embryonic relationship to the test.

I had read others of the series so found it interesting to go back and read this, the first. This introduces the characters of Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer in the early days of their relationship both professional and personal. In this Charlie feels very deeply for Simon, but Simon's emotions are harder to read. Both are interesting characters, both flawed which makes them more believable. I do wonder whether a policeman so disrespectful of authority would be allowed to remain in the police force despite his intuitive leaps which lead to successful conclusion of cases. Does a detective constable have such freedom of movement and flexibility in his duties? I would have thought not. Apart from that caveat, I do like the way Sophie Hannah writes believable characters - even the small bit part players are recognisable from people who cross our paths every day.

This is new format of book for me - a Flipback. About the size of a mobile phone, very light so very portable, it has very thin paper and small but quite clear print. It is called a Flipback because that is how it works - the pages are turned about the horizontal axis rather than the usual vertical. It is designed for commuters, and it is possible to hold in one hand and flip the pages with fingers of the same hand. I can see the benefits due to the ease of carriage but at 9.99 think it is an expensive alternative for a little bit of extra convenience.

Susan White, England
November 2011

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 12/11/2011 20:46