A Room Swept White by Sophie Hannah Hodder & Stoughton HK$104 Deftly written and utterly gripping, Sophie Hannah's fifth crime novel centres around a seemingly unlikely host of characters: three women acquitted after being suspected (and, in the case of two of them, convicted) of infanticide, two likeable but far from perfect protagonists - television producer Fliss Benson and detective constable Simon Waterhouse - and their often unfathomable bosses. Parallel mysteries drive the multi-layered storylines: first and foremost, Helen Yardley, who spent nine years in jail for the murder of her two baby sons before being acquitted, is found shot dead in her home. Sixteen apparently random numbers on a card found in Yardley's pocket are identical to those on a card received by Benson, who has been unexpectedly handed the task of finishing a documentary on Yardley and the two other women acquitted, Sarah Jaggard and Rachel Hines. Second, although the documentary was originally intended by Benson's boss to highlight miscarriages of justice allegedly perpetuated by a doctor intent on refuting findings of cot death, the narrative does not always present the innocence of each of the three women as a given. What helps make this book compelling on several levels is that, even before the suspense builds, Hannah's poignant, vivid portraits of suburban life, which are gradually revealed, layer by layer, engage the reader from early on. While Yardley is only featured posthumously, her character still manages to loom large through the excerpts of her memoir contained in the book and the recollections of other characters. But at its core this is a psychological thriller that delivers edge-of-your-seat tension. Reading this could be compared to doing an ever-changing jigsaw puzzle, where the puzzle seems to get bigger and more complex. It makes for addictive reading, and the reader is also prompted to ponder the frailty of the justice system, the many ways in which people can deal with grief, and just whom to trust and whom to doubt, when the truth of a matter may be murky at best.