THE WHOLE TRUTH
Penguin Books (penguin.co.uk)
A sexual assault and harassment complaint seems an unusual case to land on Detective Inspector Adam Fawley’s desk, but that’s where it ends up. A university student’s word against a well-respected professor. Except there’s a twist. Strapping rugby player Caleb Morgan claims that the diminutive Marina Fisher tried to take advantage of him the night before. With a wife on the verge of labour and the worry – at the back of his mind, but ever-present nonetheless – that the Roadside Rapist has been granted his freedom, Fawley doesn’t exactly have his eye on the ball, and that’s going to land him in all kinds of trouble.
The Whole Truth, DI Fawley’s fifth outing, is the longest we’ve had to wait since Cara Hunter first grabbed our attention back in 2018. Picking up more or less where All The Rage left off, it throws something of a softball in the form of the central plot – a crime that we know is staged before we even start – and manages to distract our attention from the meat of the story. Sleight of hand performed flawlessly by a well-practiced artist is what grabs us as we get into the story, and what leaves us in awe as The Whole Truth approaches its climax.
All The Rage introduced us to the Roadside Rapist, the criminal whose apprehension made Fawley’s name in Thames Valley Police, and also teased how it led to Fawley meeting the woman who would become his wife. The Whole Truth expands on the story and fills in some of the gaps and leaves us wondering – along with Alex Fawley – if this could possibly be the man sitting in the van parked down the street from her house. Hunter takes advantage of the ambiguity, and of seeds sewn in the previous volume, to leave the reader wary of Adam Fawley himself. Here, he is the ultimate unreliable narrator, and the author uses this to her advantage, leaving us to wonder if he is, in fact, a complete sociopath who has tricked us all for four novels so far.
You’re wondering why this is the first you’ve heard of all this – why I never said a thing about it before… Nothing, Bloody. Happened.
Hunter plays the long game, keeping the assault case at the forefront of our minds while making our subconscious do all the work of convicting Fawley. While she ties together threads that she has been carefully setting in place for several books now, bringing together Fawley’s personal and work lives, it allows her to shine a light on the rest of the team, the characters that are always there, but always play second fiddle to the main man. We see how much they have evolved (and yes, in some cases, matured) over the course of the series as they step up to this latest set of challenges. It also sees the return of Ruth Gallagher, one of the standout additions to the previous book. The Whole Truth is a book that has clearly taken some planning and setup, and the payoff is unlikely to disappoint (Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the wee donkey, if only we could say that about all crime fiction, eh?).
It turns out that this is the fifth time I’ve taken part in a blog tour to celebrate the release of a new Adam Fawley novel. If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about this incredible series, then let me say it in plain English: this is the best British crime series on the go today, without exception. Cara Hunter is a force to be reckoned with and each time we think she can’t do any better, she comes along with a new novel and proves us wrong. If you haven’t picked up one of the Fawley novels yet, you should do so right away. For everyone else, The Whole Truth is worth the extra-long wait (sixteen months!), so what are you waiting for?