In this superb stand-alone from British author Hayder (Pig Island), the brutal murder of 16-year-old Lorne Wood, found dead in a park with words written on her corpse, draws together the Benedict sisters, Zoë and Sally, who have been estranged for years, despite both living in the city of Bath. Career-driven Zoë, a detective inspector, takes issue with her team’s reliance on a forensic psychologist. Pursuing her own line of investigation, Zoë discovers that Lorne’s modeling aspirations may have led the girl away from the catwalk and into something much seedier. Complacent Sally, a divorced mother, must take on extra housecleaning jobs to keep up with the spending of her teenage daughter, who was acquainted with Lorne. Reluctantly, Sally agrees to work extra hours for a rich businessman she soon learns makes his fortune in hardcore pornography. Secrets, both past and present, bind the sisters yet threaten to ruin multiple lives. Hayder uses her trademark violence to perfect sinister effect. Agent: Jane Gregory. (Feb.)
Starred Review. "...superb stand-alone...Hayder uses her trademark violence to perfect sinister effect." - Publishers Weekly
"Hanging Hill is an authentically disturbing, gripping winner." - Christopher Fowler, Financial Times
"[Hayder] has in no way lost her ability to shock, thrill, entertain, and occasionally torture us with her use of words...A chiller to the very end. Hayder deals with Britain at its grittiest." - Peter Millar, The Times (London)
"This is an enjoyable book. Hayder has dispensed with her usual set of characters from earlier novels, and come up with a believable and interesting set. The main characters are carefully drawn, and while Zoe is a strong, independent woman, with a few neuroses underneath, she is not too neurotic and the more likable for it. The story itself is a good one, and Hayder's best book so far I think and I hope that Zoe turns up in future books." - EuroCrime
"Mo Hayder has crafted a powerful and frightening thriller that grips the reader from page one to the blood-freezing shock of the final page. Utterly compelling." - Irish Independent
"The very best thing a writer can do is to thoroughly and completely immerse the reader in a strange new world. Mo Hayder does it to perfection." - Michael Connelly
Two estranged sisters living in Bath, England, have strong connections to the brutal rape and murder of teenager Lorne Wood. Zoë is one of the detectives investigating the case, and her tough-girl exterior hides a painful secret. Her sister Sally's daughter, Millie, was close friends with Lorne, and her family's financial woes are proving overwhelming for Sally. Add in a creepy porn star, a dash of blackmail, and some old skeletons in the closet, and you have a recipe for disaster. This rather gory thriller shows the desperate lengths people go to when pushed beyond their limits. Hayder (Gone; Skin) has created believably flawed characters and weaves their perspectives together as she carefully builds toward a dramatic and violent finish. VERDICT Best for fans of contemporary British police procedurals in the mood for a darker tone than Deborah Crombie or Elizabeth George. [See Prepub Alert, 8/8/11.]—Laurel Bliss, San Diego State Univ. Lib.
A middle-class cleaning lady. A porn kingpin. A detective who cuts herself. Hayder (Gone, 2010, etc.) has assembled an unusual cast for her latest crime novel. Her leads, Zoë and Sally, live in Bath in the West of England; they are sisters, long estranged. Both have self-esteem issues. Big sister Zoë, feeling unloved as a kid, took it out on Sally, once breaking her finger. A smart loner (her best friend is her Harley), Zoë became a detective; but still self-hating, she often punctures her skin. Sally is the airhead, miserably aware of her shortcomings. Dumped by her husband, she is raising their teenage daughter on her own and cleaning houses to make ends meet. The novel begins with the dead body of Lorne, a pretty, popular 16-year-old, found beside a towpath, raped and murdered. Zoë is assigned to the case, along with Ben, who she's been dating. After some fieldwork, attention shifts to the owner of a mansion Sally cleans, David Goldrab. He oversees a porn empire and has some connection to a top-ranking but corrupt civil servant; both men were involved in human trafficking in Kosovo. Goldrab is an entertaining, foul-mouthed villain, and some of the air goes out of the novel when he meets, all too soon, a violent end. His connection to Lorne is nonexistent, but her murder investigation gets back-burner treatment as Zoë focuses on Goldrab's disappearance. There will be a second rape and a lightly sketched dismemberment, tame by Hayder standards. What's disconcerting is that Zoë acts more like a PI than one link in a chain of command with bosses, even telling Sally, "I'm not going to the police." Yes, that's sister Sally, for by now the two have reconciled, and the spectacle of these sisters gaining strength and self-respect has become as important as the chills and thrills. The psychobabble and uncertain focus make this one of Hayder's less-impressive works.