The Carrier by Sophie Hannah is proof that good writing and excellently executed prose cannot save a poor story and characters that utterly lack any redeeming qualities. Not the victim. Not the killer. Not the detectives. Not the bit players. Time spent with these characters is much like being stuck in an elevator with several people. All with bad BO. All with a chronic case of flatulence. Hey but at least the piped in music isn’t too bad.
“…You’re assuming, wrongly, that the victim of a murder is always the person who’s been killed and not the killer.’ Tim poured himself a glass of wine. He didn’t offer me one. ‘To cause someone so much inconvenience that they’re willing to risk their liberty and sacrifice what’s left of their humanity to remove you from the face of the earth ought to be regarded as a more serious crime than taking a gun or a blunt instrument and ending a life, all other things being equal…”
Gaby Struthers plane is delayed and she is forced to share a hotel room with an emotional and overwrought traveler named Lauren. Lauren is tense and upset. She needs to get home quickly and cannot stay overnight. She didn’t tell anyone that she would be away like this. Gaby tries to be sympathetic but find the girl simple and idiotic. Then Lauren mentions something about letting an innocent man going to prison for a murder he did not commit. Slowly, through the night, Gaby deduces that the murdered woman is in fact someone she knows. Francine Breary and the arrested murderer is her husband Tim Breary. The only man Gaby has ever loved. Now Gaby must find Lauren who has disappeared and get back home to save Tim, who she knows cannot be guilty. The only problem is that Tim has confessed. He has given the police all the evidence they could need. The only thing missing is a motive. Tim claims that he has no idea why he did it.
Gaby Struthers is an independently wealthy modern woman who lives with a man who doesn’t love her, nor does she love him. But they are contemplating having a child together because, well that is the next step. She is in love with a man who is married to someone else and who has cut her off from his life for years. So to compensate she has thrown herself into her work and travels five days out of the week so she doesn’t have to go home to the man she doesn’t love and doesn’t have time to think of the one she does.
She is basically the heroine of the story.
Francine Breary is a vindictive, unstable woman who mistreats her husband and his friends by throwing tantrums and emotional fits. Something she is still miraculously able to do even after having a stroke and being reduced to a fairly vegetative state. To get back at her, her husband and his friends, all highly educated, write her letters telling her what a bitch she is and hiding them under her mattress where she sleeps.
She’s the murder victim.
Tim Breary is an incredibly intelligent man who loves Gaby but marries Francine even though he has come to hate her. He confesses to her murder even though everyone is positive he didn’t do it.
He’s just the dumbass.
This is my first Sophie Hannah book and the writing is very well put together. The prose and flow of the tale is there, it just seriously is too much of a bad thing. Bad story. Bad characters. Bad plot. Good writing. I will probably read another Sophie Hannah book someday but the Carrier has left a pretty bad first impression with me.