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Little Face (Zailer & Waterhouse Series #1)

Little Face (Zailer & Waterhouse Series #1)

3.2 24
by Sophie Hannah

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It's every mother's nightmare.


It's every mother's nightmare.

Editorial Reviews

Art Taylor
Mysteries abound—Who is Little Face? What's happened to her and Alice? Was the wrong man convicted for the first wife's murder?—but if the answers prove clunky, the author delves more successfully into moral quandaries: What does motherhood mean? What should a mother do when she thinks her child is in danger—especially if her own family doesn't agree? Alice herself says, "Sometimes you have to choose: child or grandchild, husband or daughter, son or daughter-in-law." It's those choices and their consequences that make Little Face compelling.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

British author Hannah (Hurting Distance) weaves together two narrative voices to create this complex and occasionally forced thriller set in rural England. Excitable new mother Alice Fancourt calls the police, claiming her baby girl has been replaced by a nearly identical infant. Alice believes her husband, David, is responsible, but it soon appears that David's mother, the rich and formidable Vivienne, is up to no good. Det. Simon Waterhouse has a soft spot for the possibly delusional Alice, with whom he alternates narration, but his undeveloped character renders their relationship, or lack thereof, of little interest. More engrossing is Waterhouse's complicated friendship with his boss, Sgt. "Charlie" Zailer, a feisty, appealing woman with a major crush on her subordinate. When Alice and the baby disappear and the police reopen the murder investigation of David's first wife, some interesting discoveries are made, but readers enticed by the intriguing opening will find the payoff ultimately unsatisfying. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Mystery Scene
Few authors play with reality and perception as skillfully as Hannah does. . . . riveting reading.
The Washington Post
[Sophie Hannah] delves successfully into moral quandaries: what does motherhood mean? What should a mother do when she thinks her child is in danger—especially if her own family doesn't agree? . . . It's Alice's choices and their consequences that make Little Face so compelling.
The Boston Globe
The power this novel packs derives from narrators who play fast and loose with what they know. . . . A stunner.
Library Journal

In this psychological thriller by a British poet and crime novelist, a mother's newborn is supposedly switched with another while mom has her first post-birth outing. Yet the baby has been in her father's care, and neither he nor the baby ever left the house. If you find this perplexing, be forewarned: the book's convoluted story line is not easy to follow. Hannah uses stereotypical gothiclike plot devices, such as the violent murder of the first wife (think Rebecca); the rich, spoiled, adult son and his creepy relationship with his mother; and the dominating mother-in-law who wants control. No one believes poor Alice when she insists that her baby daughter, Florence, has been exchanged for another infant; her hysteria is dismissed as hormonal stress. Only one officer, who has his own issues, is persuaded to investigate further. Unfortunately, there is not one character that you can root for in this novel, so it is hard to care about the outcome of this lackadaisical, confusing thriller. Recommended only where British mysteries and crime fiction are popular.
—Marianne Fitzgerald

School Library Journal

Adult/High School -Alice Fancourt knows the baby in her nursery is not her daughter, Florence, but everyone else is not so sure. Her husband thinks she is crazy; her domineering mother-in-law is reserving judgment but treating her like an infant herself; and the cops, for the most part, do not believe her. This psychological mystery exposes itself slowly. Careful readers are given the clues to Alice's dilemma and the motivations of the characters, but it is easy to engage fully in the drama, be surprised by the occasional twist, and close the book completely satisfied. The suspense is more atmospheric than overt, and the mystery is in the tension of the relationships. Alice is a flawed character who presents herself almost as a child. Simon, the one detective who believes her, has his own torments to which teens can relate. A solid addition to mystery collections.-Mary Ann Harlan, Arcata High School, CA

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Is Alice deranged or has her husband swapped her newborn child for another baby?Every character in British novelist Hannah's slightly unhinged psychodrama shows signs of mental disorder, from desperate Alice, convinced a different baby has been substituted for her two-week-old daughter Florence; to her menacing husband David; his bossy control freak of a mother Vivienne; the smitten but introvert cop Simon, who has been put on the case; and Simon's female boss Charlie, who is not yet over Simon's sexual rejection of her at a party a year earlier. There are echoes of Gaslight in David's increasingly sadistic humiliations of fragile Alice, intensifying her sense of isolation and despair; and hints of Rebecca in the scenario of an alienated victim/wife trapped in a vast house-The Elms, Vivienne's sizeable home, where they all live-and out of her depth. When Alice and the baby disappear, Charlie is forced to take Simon's hunches more seriously and the murder of Laura Cryer, David's first wife, is reopened. Slowly the plot winds to a conclusion in which two possibly mad, utterly driven women struggle for the upper hand. Not quite Hitchcock, but a tautly claustrophobic spiral of a story delivered with self-belief.

Product Details

Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
Zailer & Waterhouse Series , #1
Product dimensions:
6.25(w) x 9.28(h) x 1.01(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Sophie Hannah is the bestselling author of nine novels and is also an award-winning poet. Her Hercule Poirot mystery, the first to be sanctioned by the Agatha Christie estate, was published in 2014. She lives in Cambridge, England, with her husband and two children, and is a Fellow Commoner at Lucy Cavendish College.

Customer Reviews

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Little Face 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was entertaining for a while, but in the end I was disappointed with the book. I would not recommend it.
rtpana More than 1 year ago
Sophie Hannah has written the following 4 books in sequence: Little Face, Truth Teller's Lie (Beware!!! AKA as Hurting Distance), Wrong Mother and Dead Lie Down. Little Face is my first and I have happily purchased the other 3 and saving them for my vacation. The issue of the changed baby (is it or isn't it) and all the different convoluted suspects make for an exciting premise. In addition, there is the tension between the 2 detectives Zailer and Waterhouse which bring the aspect of the typical British procedural into play. This book exceeded my expectations because some of Sophie Hannah's books seem to be marketed mainly as psychological thrillers and it was only through the Customer's reviews that I took a chance on this one. Hannah's next books have more stars so I know I won't be let down.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Great read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this author, but this book was terrible.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book and all sophie hannah
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great fun if you like British mystery
Sonnyci More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this novel. it had it moments where it had you thinking and was very well written. Sohie Hannah is a force to reckon with in this style of writing
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Sue Dailey More than 1 year ago
I was very disappointed in this book. I found character development minimal and the plot shallow and dull. The author's writing style was simple and unappealing to read. I regret spending money on this book when there are novels that wil more deeply appeal to me.
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On2TheNextOne More than 1 year ago
After reading the back of the book I thought is sounded very interesting. Until I got a fourth of the way through it. The book drags on and on. Nothing really dramatic happened. It took a long time for me to read the book because it just wasn't interesting. I thought the plot was not realistic and I don't care for Sophie Hannah's writing style. This is the second Sophie Hannah book I have read, only because I bought both books at the same time. I don't like either book. I will not buy another Sophie Hannah book again. In the end it was a big waste of money.
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LATeachCO More than 1 year ago
When I'm reading a book I love, I know as soon as I finish I'll wish there was more - no matter how satisfying the ending. "Little Face" has me rushing just to be done. Yes, I want a solution to the mystery - but I just don't care about the characters. I don't believe in them.
MagpieZ More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up after reading another by the same author and found this an enjoyable read as well. The story is interesting - part mystery but a good story too. I thought the plot was inventive and the non-linear style of writing to be creative if sometimes frustrating when I wanted to hear more from a given character before another chimed in. The book brings up a few subjects that would be interesting to discuss in a book-club setting. The characters seemed a bit one-dimensional to me at times, but I still enjoyed the author's ability to give each a unique voice.
Nebraska More than 1 year ago
This one had me guessing up until the end! Great mystery, our book club read this one together.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This came up when i searched face hole lol