HANGING HILL by Mo Hayder is one of those books that you don’t get over after having read it. From its somber first sentences to its final paragraph, this is an instant classic, one that is firmly rooted in the mystery/thriller genre but that transcends classification.
The novel takes place in the city of Bath, England, far from the London world of Hayder’s Jack Caffrey and the Walking Man series. The deceptively peaceful setting is not without its own dangers, though. At its core, HANGING HILL concerns two long-estranged sisters whose lives have taken quite divergent paths. Zoe Benedict is an extremely competent police detective who is as deadly as she is striking. Independent, a martial artist, and possessed of a thatch of striking red hair and legs that reach from London to Paris, Zoe is just short of being the force’s loose cannon. Sally, Zoe’s sister, could not be more different from her older sibling.
"What Hayder does is set up a scenario that grows more suspenseful (painfully so) by the page, until he shakes things up when the reader least expects it."
Seemingly bequeathed by life with an indelible “kick me” sign, Sally is still reeling from the breakup of her marriage from her philandering husband, who is newly remarried and with a new baby. She is woefully unable to make the downward adjustment in income and lifestyle and has been forced to take up work as a housecleaner to support herself and Millie, her teenage daughter. The one bright spot in her life is Steve Finder, her newly minted boyfriend. Steve is kind, gentle and somewhat mysterious. He has employment that takes him around the world doing things that he can’t really talk about and is as wise to the world as Sally is clueless. The estrangement between the sisters occurred long in the past, and runs deep, for reasons that are slowly and tantalizingly revealed as the story progresses.
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