When it comes to exposing the odd inner workings of the human mind, Sophie Hannah always manages to make the extreme seem much more common place than any of us would like to think. In her new work, The Warning, Sophie Hannah examines the concept of the sociopath from a new angle.

The Warning is longer than a short story, but not as long as novella, so trying to classify it is pointless. What it is without a doubt is a fascinating read that goes by all to quickly. Both fans of and newcomers to the author will want to seek out this short work.

As The Warning opens, Chloe Daniels is taking her daughter to a theater audition. Their well-timed plans go awry when Chloe realizes that she left the sheet music back in the car. With no time to spare, a Good Samaritan in the form of Tom Rigby, steps forward to offer help. Knowing it is crazy, Chloe trusts Tom with her car keys. With no other options, she has to take this risk and against all odds, things actually work out fine.

Days later, Chloe drops off a thank you present at Tom’s office only to be pulled aside by the receptionist. This woman warns Chloe to stay away from Tom Rigby; she says that he is a plague in human form. Shaken, but unsure what this means exactly, Chloe proceeds to continue her interactions with Tom. But, as his odd behavior begins to escalate, she comes to fear that perhaps her initial judgment was flawed. Or maybe she herself is flawed?

Sophie Hannah clearly knows that the closeness of Tom’s name to the Highsmith character is going to set off red flags for readers. He even refers to himself as the Talented Mr. Rigby on a number of occasions. The anxiety for readers will increase at each subsequent meeting between these two lead characters.

Longtime fans of Sophie Hannah’s work will be delighted by the appearance of her series regulars, Charlie Zailer and Simon Waterhouse. Chloe’s best friend consults with these two police officers in an effort to mitigate the potential damages. What they are able to uncover is going to change everything.

The Warning is a lesson to everyone. Sometimes our snap judgments can get us into more trouble than anticipated. Furthermore, each of us carries our own brand of crazy and sometimes we seek out those most like us to help normalize our behaviors. But sometimes one party takes it too far.

Readers who have never tried any of Sophie Hannah’s shorter works are encouraged to do so. Like one of her best short stories, The Octopus Nest, The Warning exposes uncomfortable truths about its characters, but does so in ways that are completely unexpected and oh so twisted.


Disclaimer: An e-galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.