The Whole Truth
reviewed by Carolyn Scott
The truth certainly gets a work-out in this terrific new addition to Cara Hunter’s excellent crime series set in Oxford, featuring DI Adam Fawley.
First, there is the male postgrad student at an Oxford college who claims he was sexually assaulted by his academic mentor. He’s a six-foot rugby player so did she really try to force herself on him? She’s a professor and high flyer at her college with a lot to lose if the case goes to court, but is she also a predator who thinks she is powerful enough to get away with it?
Next there is the true crime podcast, “The Whole Truth,” sponsored by an organization that campaigns to overturn miscarriages of justice. The current series features Gavin Parrie, aka ‘the Roadside Rapist’, arrested by Adam and jailed for rape of several women in 1998, despite maintaining his innocence. Now paroled after twenty years in jail and monitored with an ankle bracelet, the podcast aims to show that the original investigation was flawed and the real rapist never caught. Adam’s wife Alex was one of Parrie’s last victims and because her evidence helped to convict him, she finds herself addicted to listening to the podcast. After all he did threaten her in court and now she’s home alone and heavily pregnant.
And then there is Adam, caught in a nightmare situation where solid forensic evidence points at him as the perpetrator of a shocking crime. Not even his own team can believe he could be innocent; they all know forensic evidence couldn’t be wrong, could it?
The Whole Truth is a beautifully paced book with the parallel plots all being carefully set up, ready to explode into unexpected directions with twists and revelations later in the book. As with the previous books in this series, snippets of information are sprinkled throughout the text in the form of newspaper cuttings, email, social media, police reports and excerpts from the podcast. As well as giving a glimpse of what is happening behind the scenes, this makes for a lively and entertaining reading experience.
One of the strengths of this series is the development of the secondary characters and Adam’s colleagues are not forgotten amongst the drama as they progress with their lives and careers. The sexual abuse case was sensitively handled and raised interesting issues in the gender politics that occur in this type of case. This is the fifth book in the series and, is best read in sequence to really get to know the characters and their backstories. However, the author does give an excellent summary for each character before the start of the novel, making it possible to read it as a stand-alone.
Overall, this was a compelling, gripping read with plenty of suspense and tension as the stakes are raised high before the whole truth emerges.
With thanks to Penguin UK and NetGalley for a copy to read. Expected publication April 29, 2021.