Commuter reads: Hanging Hill – Mo Hayder

There’s nothing I love more than a gritty crime thriller, particularly if it’s by Mo Hayder (who I think is a genius in this genre).

Hanging Hill is one of her stand-alone thrillers, not one of the Jack Caffery thriller series. Although I like the Caffery series, I really enjoyed having a story that stood by itself and didn’t come with characters whose history is recorded in previous books.

I think my enjoyment of this book was increased by how vividly I imagined it. The small cottage that Sally and her daughter, Millie, live in reminded me exactly of a small country cottage my family owns, in the middle  of nowhere with winding roads, it even has a shed in the corner of the garden like the shed Sally and Steve work out of when they are disposing of the body.

Having somewhere real to image the story taking place added to the slightly unnerving and unsettling feeling that is always so well-crafted in Hayder’s stories.

Predictably, I also loved Zoe Benedict. Strong-headed, independent, no nonsense, no emotions, that’s always the kind of female protagonist I love to see and identify with. Although, also slightly predictably, she has to be given her own sort of happy ending, not a happily ever after, but a satisfactory one for those readers who love to find some love in any story they read.

My favourite part of the book is by far the ending. Hayder leaves you completely hanging in the balance, with the possibility of something awful happening and the killer is revealed but not caught. In 2012, it caused many fans to beg Hayder for a sequel. But her response was

“The ending is like that because I’m evil and because I believe YOUR imagination is better able to fill in the spaces than mine is!”

That’s what I really enjoy, the book clearly provoked my imagination and leaving the ending open is a perfect way to continue that. I would much rather an open, cliff-hanger shock ending than a neatly tied up happy ending, am I the only one who feels that way?


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