Published: 23rd January 2020
A teenage girl is found wandering the outskirts of Oxford, dazed and distressed. The story she tells is terrifying. Grabbed off the street, a plastic bag pulled over her face, then driven to an isolated location where she was subjected to what sounds like an assault. Yet she refuses to press charges.
DI Fawley investigates, but there’s little he can do without the girl’s co-operation. Is she hiding something, and if so, what? And why does Fawley keep getting the feeling he’s seen a case like this before?
And then another girl disappears, and Adam no longer has a choice: he has to face up to his past. Because unless he does, this victim may not be coming back . . .
The next DI Adam Fawley thriller always fills me with anticipation. A gripping case full of twists and revelations that keep you turning the pages is an absolute guarantee, and it is no different here as I was wrapped up in another complex police investigation. That said, I was not completely sold by how things ultimately played out this time around.
One of the best things about this series is its continuity. By now, I have got to know the principal characters very well, and it is fun to see them evolve while at the same time the plot rarely stands still. There is much more to each case than initially meets the eye, and with the unique and creative way in which the story is told, it is often hard to guess what might happen next.
The latest case for DI Fawley and his team sees a teenage girl escape a terrifying ordeal at the hands of an unknown assailant. At first it is treated as a hate crime, but the methods used are hauntingly similar to that of a serial offender who Fawley helped to convict nearly 20 years earlier. His worst fears are seemingly confirmed days later when another teenage girl disappears.
Despite making some interesting discoveries, the team fail to make significant progress and there is no compelling evidence that points towards any one of a growing number of suspects. At the same time, Fawley is having to deal with the resurfacing of his old case. But when the breakthrough finally arrives, it reveals a plot of intricate detail.
I really liked how the case began. It seemed interesting and mysterious, and with the addition of the historic crimes it felt like it could be the most compelling book of the series so far. However, while I was very much invested in the story and enjoyed trying to work it all out, I was not altogether a fan of how it developed in the end.
As is customary, Cara Hunter weaves a highly intelligent narrative, showing an impeccable attention to detail in regards to all aspects of the case and coming up with novel ways of resolving it. But at times here I almost felt like she was trying to be too clever, and was battling the notion that the sequence of events concerning Sasha’s disappearance was a little far-fetched.
I feel like we learned a lot more about Fawley in this book, and it makes him appear even more of a fascinating character. This is a case that clearly affects him, but I felt this could have been conveyed so much better than what it was. He is written primarily in the first person, but his tension very rarely comes across in my view, which is a shame.
On the bright side, we do receive insights into his excellent detective skills. As for the other characters, I loved the development of Somer and how much of a frontline role she plays in this case. It was also good to see more of Everett and Baxter. Of those related to the case, they were all well drawn but I really liked Faith; her story was impactful and I was glad that it ended well. Yet is was curious that all the children in this book seemed to have absent fathers…
I could hardly review an DI Fawley thriller without discussing the various techniques that Hunter uses to tell the story. We have the now familiar sight of interview transcripts and at times vitriolic social media feeds, but here we also have maps, blog posts, and transcripts from a criminal trial. For me, this is one of the distinguishing features of the series that sets it apart from others in the genre.
The way the book ended suggests that its events are going to carry over into the next one, which makes that an intriguing prospect. There were definitely some unanswered questions arising from All The Rage which I hope Cara Hunter will eventually shed some light on. Time will tell.
Overall, this was another enjoyable mystery in this terrific series. It kept me turning the pages as ever and I liked the unpredictability of it, but then again I did have some issues. The hard-hitting plot did not grip me as much as I hoped and Fawley’s POV was underwhelming, so although a good read, it did not necessarily meet my high expectations.
There are a lot of potential triggers in this book, as some aspects of the case are unsettling and hard-hitting. The most prominent of these are descriptions of rape and sexual assault – it is not graphic but will certainly be tough reading for some.
The book also contains child death, transphobia, and themes of grief.
I had some issues, but this was another book full of twists and turns from Cara Hunter and there is barely a moment where I don’t enjoy her writing. It was good – it could have been even better.
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐.5