Friday, August 31, 2012
Hanging Hill by Mo Hayder
I had never read anything by Mo Hayder before, though I had seen the name. I had always thought the author was a man. Hayder is a mystery writer who earns one-word endorsements from other mystery writers: “Stunning,” “Haunting,” “Disturbing,” “Terrifying.” All of these could apply to Hanging Hill. What struck me, however, was the size and complexity of the vision—she doesn’t implicate just one policeman, nor find just one psychopath—there are several. Evil swirls all around us, every day. And each of us has the capacity for the most heinous crimes.
This is not exactly reassuring, which is why her novels have earned description as “the most terrifying crime thrillers you will ever read.” If this latest novel represents her skills, I have to admit I found it terrifying that so many ordinary-seeming people (including government officials and law enforcement) were implicated by the end. There seems no end to the deceit and criminality.
Willing as I am to suspend disbelief when it comes to novels, however, there were many places I could point to that did not add up. But I am not going to do that here, since I believe Hayder’s books speak for themselves. People want to be scared when they open her big books. I can imagine someone buying a new book of hers along with a bottle of plonk and a bag of chips and sinking down alone on the couch for a weekend of blissful terror.
Usually I can summarize the main theme of a book in one line, but it is especially difficult with this book. Suffice it to say a beautiful young woman turns up strangled along a canal tow-path and this story seeks to find that killer but finds many others as well. We go ‘round and ‘round with suspects, and it turns out each of them is hiding something. I’d love to see what Stephen King says of Mo Hayder.
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