Friday, 26 January 2018

Book Review: Did You See Melody? by Sophie Hannah

Book: Did You See Melody? (known in the US as Keep Her Safe)

Author: Sophie Hannah 

Pages: 336 

Read on: Kindle 

Read in: 3-4 hours 

Plot Summary: Pushed to breaking point, Cara Burrows abandons her home and family and escapes to a five-star spa resort she can't afford. Late at night, exhausted and desperate, she lets herself into her hotel room and is shocked to find it already occupied - by a man and a teenage girl.

A simple mistake on the part of the hotel receptionist - but Cara's fear intensifies when she works out that the girl she saw alive and well in the hotel room is someone she can't possibly have seen: the most famous murder victim in the country, Melody Chapa, whose parents are serving life sentences for her murder.
Cara doesn't know what to trust: everything she's read and heard about the case, or the evidence of her own eyes. Did she really see Melody? 
And is she prepared to ask herself that question and answer it honestly if it means risking her own life?

Things I Liked: 
  • The premise of the book seemed really interesting. A woman on a holiday (of sorts) believes she has seen a girl, who was supposedly killed by her own parents some seven years ago! Was who Cara Burrows saw really Melody?! If yes, then who is the man that she is with? The premise threw up a lot of interesting questions and I couldn't wait to dive into the book! 
  • The events that unfolded ever since Cara stepped into that swanky Swallowtail Resort in Arizona were quite interesting and fast-paced. Cara stumbling into the wrong room, seeing a girl with a man, figuring out the next day that the girl she saw was Melody Chapa- the most famous missing girl in the US. There is never a dull moment in this book! 
  • The story is told in an interesting and engaging manner. We get to see events from Cara's point of view- her early days at the resort, her friendship with the extremely sharp and no-nonsense florist from Kanasa- Tarin Fry and her feeling helpless and conflicted as no one at the resort would call the police to report her sighting of Melody. Then, we are also shown pages of a book or a diary, presumably written by Melody herself, which outline the emotional abuse and coldness that Melody faced from her parents. So, as a reader, you wonder if it was this abuse that finally escalated into Melody's murder? Or was Melody's death faked? If so, then by who or whom? 
  • My favourite character in the book was the intrepid Tarin Fry! Clearly, a woman after my heart, who saw through all the BS and smartly got the FBI involved to investigate Cara's claims once she figured that the local senior cop was quite useless. Tarin's sharp observations and her connecting the dots of what was going on at Swallowtail helped the FBI figure things out much faster! 
  • The book brings up the very important issue of 'trial by media' or 'trial in the court of public opinion'. We have this vile prosecutor turned TV journalist called Bonnie Juno, who prides herself on figuring out who the 'real' killer is and going hammer and tongs after them on her TV show. The book does a great job on the perils of discussing live cases on national TV and trying to sway the public opinion based on selective pieces of information. 
  • There is a decent "twist"/ reveal in the end, which is quite nicely done and is not very guess-able, which is always a nice element in a mystery book. Also, the last chapter is a bit of a shock, but to be honest, you can see it coming! 
Things I Didn't Like: 
  • I just didn't like Cara! Her reasons for dumping her family back home in England and running off to a posh spa in the US, thereby, blowing up a third of her family's savings. Cara is annoying and moronic and whiny and I just couldn't empathise with her, even when she was kidnapped! Too bad that this character was written as this entitled, whiny, full of #firstworldproblems, else I would've possibly enjoyed this book a lot more! 
  • I wish there was more time spent on unraveling what really happened to Melody rather than wasting so much time on describing the "posh" Swallowtail Resort and Spa! 
Rating: 3.5/ 5 
This is a good, fast-paced read and, honestly, if you like Cara's character, then you may like the book much more than I did :) 

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