Good Reading : June 2009
author profile This young British Sophie Hannah Hannah are disconcerting. This queen of crime fiction is so devoid of artifice, so transparently charming, so utterly different from any expectations or preconceptions gained from reading her books, that it takes a few minutes to appreciate that you’re speaking to a woman who spends her life plotting how to gruesomely murder some hapless individual in a plot twist which leaves readers scratching their heads. While Sophie’s novels are introspective and reveal dark motivations in her characters, the author is disarmingly bright, open, warm and generous. T 24 goodreading ı JUNE 2009 he first five minutes of a conversation with novelist Sophie writer has written some of he most thrilling stories published in recent years, and she is single-handedly writing herself into the history of fiction, crafting a place for herself in the pantheon of icons of p h crime writers, along with Ruth Rendell, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers and P D James. Although she rejects the often-heard claim, she is turning detective fiction, indeed much recently published fiction, on its head. She denies that it’s a deliberate ploy, as Machiavellian as one of her plots, but there can be little doubt that she is shifting both the readership and the genre of detective fiction. Speaking to me during her recent visit to Australia to promote her latest book, The Other Half Lives, she talks about literary versus plot-driven novels. ‘I don’t write books setting out to change the genre. I love detective fiction, and I write it for intelligent people. In the past few decades, there’s been quite a lot of crime fiction which is merely a whodunnit, and that leaves me, and I’m sure many people, dissatisfied. I don’t have a mission in mind, but if I want something which leaves me intellectually and emotionally satisfied and wanting more, then I assume that my readers will want the same from any book I write. ‘Currently, there’s an unnecessary polarisation between novels; there are books with a good strong plot, but often poorly written, and then there are worthwhile literary books which are well written but dull, which don’t tell a strong story. I write books for people like me, who want to read a thrilling work which keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout, but which is really well written and satisfying.’ She bursts out laughing, and continues, ‘I want to contribute to the world of crime fiction and make it increasingly popular. I want to build up a raft of books and for people to think of me as a grand dame of the genre, them softly killing Gentle, polite and humble, SOPHIE HANNAH doesn’t seem to ALAN GOLD like the type to plot a gruesome murder.