All the Hidden Truths

Written by Claire Askew

Review written by Adrian Magson

Adrian Magson is the author of 27 crime and spy thrillers. 'Death at the Old Asylum', the 8th title in the Inspector Lucas Rocco series set in 1960s France, currently in ebook, comes out in paperback on the 14th March via Canelo Books. More information:

All the Hidden Truths
Hodder & Stoughton
RRP: £12.99
Released: August 9 2018

Damn, this is a good book. I rarely begin a review with these words, but then I’m rarely expecting a debut of such power, and of such verve.

Thirteen female college students in Edinburgh are gunned down by a fellow student (a male), who subsequently kills himself. The motives are unknown, the country is stunned and the police with no one to bring to justice, are unable to bring any kind of closure. There follows a tsunami of vitriolic and vicious blame-laying from the public, mostly online, against the mother of the killer. Didn’t she know he was going to do this? Hadn’t she caused it by breeding a monster? Why didn’t she spot the clues in her own house?

There are three distinct presences in this story: Moira, the mother of the killer; Ishbel, the mother of the first girl to die; and newly-promoted D.I. Helen Birch. Each has her own private hell to deal with, and their own feelings of loss and guilt. Even the police inspector lives in torment, as her brother disappeared several years before in mysterious circumstances; and a muck-raking journalist who has been targeting her ever since. I said there were three presences, but that’s not the whole story. There’s a fourth, who actually leaps right off the page: the journalist, Grant Lockley, is without any doubt in my mind such a loathsome character I wanted to wash my hands after reading.

Quite apart from the nastiness Moira has to face from cowardly trolls hiding online, the graffiti scrawled on her house, the wave of death threats against her (sadly, all a horrible reflection of what goes on in real life), there’s the vicious ripping apart of her character by Lockley in the press with vile insinuation, twisting of words and speculation – again, also a reflection of real life from the media as a whole – and the willingness of ordinary people to believe the absolute worst of others, even when no proof is offered, only suggestion, only innuendo.

I won’t go further into the story simply because YOU HAVE TO READ THIS to get a flavour of it; and to see the helplessness of the police in a hopeless and inexplicable situation, the destructive sense of loss felt by the victims’ and the killer’s families, and the apparent ease with which a journalist can sway and even build public opinion by producing a tide of innuendo that they swallow hook, line and sinker.

This was so realistic, that apart from all the families to which this has happened in real life, here but most prominently in the US, I found myself thinking about the case here of Bristol landlord, Christopher Jefferies, who was hounded by media insinuation and even arrested before being released without charge. Yes, it does happen in real life.

I can’t say I’ll go looking for other stories like this (editor please note), but that’s just me. I was very impressed – especially as this was a debut and is highly recommended.

Book Reviews
About Us
Contact Us

Privacy Policy | Contact Shots Editor