ALL THE RAGE by Cara Hunter

ALL THE RAGE

Cara Hunter

Penguin Books (penguin.co.uk)

£7.99

Teenager Faith Appleford is abducted from a bus stop on the busy Oxford road during the morning rush hour, bundled into a van and taken to a shed on an allotment. Before her abductor can finish what he started, he is frightened off by the sound of nearby sirens. Faith refuses to press charges and provides information to the police only under duress. When another girl is taken from the same area two days later, DI Adam Fawley and his team are well aware that Sasha Blake might not be so lucky and that, as time passes, the chances of their search teams finding the girl alive are rapidly dwindling. Are the cases connected and, more importantly, are they connected to the Roadside Rapist, who Fawley helped put behind bars over twenty years earlier?

I have been a big fan of Cara Hunter’s Adam Fawley books since I cracked open Close to Home in the dim and distant days of early 2018 (2 years? Can we really have been so spoilt – 4 very fine novels in such a short period?), and a new book in the series is always cause for celebration. I’m happy to tell you that All the Rage is no exception.

Sticking to the procedural formula that has worked so well before, Hunter also pulls back the curtains on the lives of the novel’s protagonists, giving us a much more intimate look at who these people are, and what they do when they’re not investigating some of Oxford’s most heinous crimes. For the first time she provides us with a first-person account of the proceedings from Fawley himself, interspersed with the narrative from a number of other points of view. Fawley’s marriage is back on track following the separation that dogged him during the previous book, and his wife is pregnant; this allows Hunter to show a very intimate side of Fawley, given his personal history, and the fate of his first son.

While he’s the only character given a first-person voice, Fawley is not the only character whose feelings are placed under a microscope. His female staff members – Ev and Somer – in particular play a central role in this case, and Hunter examines the many ways in which they are affected – despite their very different characters – by the abduction of these young girls, and by the grief that their families suffer throughout.

Along with the usual social media feeds and newspaper clippings that give the reader a sense of how the public are reacting to these high-profile crimes, Hunter provides a number of courtroom transcripts that introduce us to an Adam Fawley of twenty years ago, and to the Roadside Rapist, a man that Fawley helped to put behind bars and a case that, ultimately, is very personal to the detective inspector. These latest crimes, and their similarity to those of the Roadside Rapist, seem to suggest that Fawley maybe got it wrong twenty years ago, that the man he put behind bars was as innocent as he always claimed to be. This conflict of interest allows Hunter to introduce a new character in the form of DI Ruth Gallagher, who brings a new dynamic to the team, and whose very presence in Fawley’s squad room sows a seed of doubt about the man for whom we keep returning to Hunter’s novels. Is Fawley who we thought he was and, more importantly, can we – both readers and subordinates – trust anything that he says or does?

Cara Hunter has accomplished so much in such a short period of time, and the DI Adam Fawley series goes from strength to strength, each book more complex, more tightly plotted, more enjoyable than the last. Watching these characters grow and evolve is as fascinating as the crimes around which the novels are constructed and the sense of humanity that Hunter evokes is one of the key reasons that this reader returns for each new book. All the Rage grips from the opening page and keeps us guessing until the very last chapter, as theories develop and are disproved, new suspects are introduced and assessed, until that final satisfying click! that is the sound of everything falling into place, the only possible solution that, we see in hindsight, should have been as obvious as the nose on our face.

I can’t recommend Cara Hunter’s novels highly enough. If you’ve yet to meet DI Adam Fawley, then what are you waiting for? Go now and pick up a copy of Close to Home. You’ll be clamouring for Book 5 by the end of next week. These are some of the finest British crime fiction being produced today, and Cara Hunter is a force to be reckoned with. I’m already pining for Fawley and looking forward to his next case. You should be, too!

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