Mysteries aboundWho 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 dangerespecially 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
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 Excitable new mother Alice Fancourt calls the police, claiming her baby girl has been replaced by a nearly identical infant.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
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 dangerespecially 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.
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.
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.
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.