Cover image of "Woman with a Secret." Skip it and read Gone Girl

In recent years there has been a spate of murder mysteries written by female authors about mysterious women. Gillian Flynn’s outstanding novel of suspense, Gone Girl, topped the best-seller charts for months, only to be replaced some time later by The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. (I’ve reviewed both.) Now here comes Woman With a Secret, presumably intended to snare the same broad audience. Between you and me, I could have stopped reading in this genre after Gone Girl. Enough, already!

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Sophie Hannah, who wrote Woman With a Secret, is unquestionably clever, even devilishly so. There are more twists and turns in this tale than on any mountain road. However, it doesn’t appear that she can create a believable character to save her life. One after another — the woman of the title, her treacherous “best friend,” a vitriolic newspaper columnist, a former Labour MP who is a child of wealth and privilege, a talented police detective — the characters who come on the scene in this novel are so outlandishly eccentric as to astonish even those, like me, who recognize that England is a land of eccentrics. If Sophie Hannah meant this book to be satirical, it doesn’t come across.

Woman With a Secret by Sophie Hannah ★★★☆☆

If you haven’t read Gone Girl, pick up a copy. Forget Woman With a Secret. You’ll thank me.

Sophie Hannah is a British poet and novelist whose adult life has revolved around Cambridge and Oxford universities. She has written more novels of psychological suspense and books of poetry than I care to count. It’s doubtful I’ll read any more of them.

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