Did You See Melody? by Sophie Hannah

“If I ever get to rate this kidnapping on TripAdvisor, I’ll give it four stars instead of three.”

Did You See Melody? is such a good thriller. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Sophie Hannah’s Culver Valley series – mostly because she can write a damn good plot, but her regular characters are frequently insufferable. Happily, they’re all absent in this stand-alone thriller set in Arizona. Our protagonist here is Cara Burrows, who has some of the traits which make Hannah’s characters frequently frustrating – chiefly a total lack of ability to constructively communicate with loved ones, which leads to her life crumbling around her.

In Melody though, this is less of an issue and more of a jumping-off point for the main plot. Here, Cara escapes her family-life for a fortnight, booking herself in at the eye-wateringly expensive Swallowtail Resort. A first-night mishap leads to Cara being assigned an already occupied room. She initially thinks little of the surprising middle-of-the-night encounter with a strange man and teenage girl… until she realises the girl she saw was the country’s most famous murder victim, Melody Chapa.

The book became most gripping once the Melody plot was introduced (the first 15-20% is really just extreme holiday envy as Cara explores her lush new surroundings.) A lot of backstory is then delivered in long chunks of blog posts and video transcripts, to the point that Cara and co fade into the background for a fairly long while. Towards the final third she disappears almost entirely, as the cast expands through TV producers, police officers, resort-dwellers and so on.

I became utterly engrossed in the mystery of missing Melody, and finished the book within a day (having only started it at 10pm, it easily kept me up until 2am turning pages). Even better, the ending features a twist I didn’t see coming a mile off – I love being caught out by a truly unexpected twist.

I’ve been umming and ahhing over Hannah’s Poirot novels, and after Did You See Melody? I’m actually looking forward to giving them a go.

Many thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley.

[Read from 29-30 March 2017]

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