The Sinner Book Summary, Quotes & Key Points

The Sinner Book Summary, Quotes & Key Points
Julia Scheeres
Julia Scheeres She/Her - Journalist/Book Author/Cat Mom May 21, 2023

The Sinner is a thrilling novel that delves into the complexities of the human psyche and the consequences of repressed memories. In this book summary, we will explore the plot, characters, themes, and writing style of this gripping psychological thriller.

The Sinner Book Summary

Plot Summary

A shocking act of violence committed by a young mother, Cora Tannetti, in public leaves everyone baffled. Cora confesses to the crime, but Detective Harry Ambrose is not convinced that she acted alone. As he investigates the case, he uncovers hidden secrets from Cora's past that lead to the shocking truth behind her crime.

Main Characters

The main characters in The Sinner are Cora Tannetti, Detective Harry Ambrose, Cora's husband Mason Tannetti, and her sister Phoebe Tannetti.


The novel explores themes such as psychological trauma, repressed memories, family secrets, forgiveness, and redemption.


The beach, the song "Huggin & Kissin" by Big Black Delta, and the color red are some of the symbols used in the novel.

Writing Style

The Sinner is written in third-person narrative, with a nonlinear timeline and descriptive and introspective prose.

The Sinner Book Review


The Sinner is a gripping psychological thriller that keeps the readers engaged till the very end. The author, Petra Hammesfahr, skillfully weaves together a complex plot and well-developed characters to create a compelling story.


The novel has a compelling storyline, well-crafted characters, and insightful exploration of psychological trauma.


The pace of the novel is somewhat slow, and there is occasional repetition of themes.


The Sinner is highly recommended for fans of psychological thrillers and anyone interested in exploring the complexities of the human psyche.

The Sinner Quotes

"The past is never where you think you left it."
"The truth is a slippery thing."

The Sinner Key Points

Repressed Memories

Cora's violent act is triggered by a repressed memory from her childhood, which she had buried deep within her subconscious.

Family Secrets

Cora's family has been keeping a dark secret from her, which is revealed through the course of the investigation.

Forgiveness and Redemption

Cora's journey towards healing involves confronting her past and seeking forgiveness from those she has hurt.

FAQs for The Sinner

1. What is the significance of the beach in the story?

The beach is a symbol of Cora's traumatic childhood and the repressed memories that haunt her.

2. How does Detective Ambrose's personal life affect his investigation?

Harry Ambrose's personal life affects his investigation in unexpected ways, as he struggles to balance his professional duties with his personal demons.

3. What role does music play in the story?

Music, especially the song "Huggin & Kissin" by Big Black Delta, is a recurring motif in the novel, representing Cora's inner turmoil and emotional state.

4. How does Cora's relationship with her sister Phoebe change over the course of the story?

Cora's relationship with her sister Phoebe is strained at the beginning of the story, but as the investigation progresses, they grow closer and support each other through difficult times.

5. What is the meaning behind the song "Huggin & Kissin" by Big Black Delta?

The song "Huggin & Kissin" represents Cora's inner turmoil and emotional state, as she struggles to come to terms with her traumatic past.

6. How does the nonlinear timeline affect the reader's understanding of the story?

The nonlinear timeline adds to the suspense and mystery of the novel, as the readers are gradually piecing together the events that led to Cora's shocking act of violence.

7. What is the significance of the color red in the story?

The color red represents the violence and passion that are at the heart of the novel, as well as the blood that is shed.

8. How does Cora's traumatic childhood affect her as an adult?

Cora's traumatic childhood has left deep scars on her psyche, and she struggles with repressed memories and emotional instability as an adult.

9. What is the message of the story regarding forgiveness?

The novel suggests that forgiveness is a difficult but necessary process for healing and moving on from past traumas.

10. What is the ultimate truth behind Cora's crime?

The ultimate truth behind Cora's crime is revealed through a series of shocking revelations that upend everything the readers thought they knew about the case.