No Way Out

Written by Cara Hunter

Review written by Carole Tyrell

Carole Tyrrell worked in the theatre for nearly 10 years and was always fascinating by the way death and the supernatural formed many of the greatest and most enduring works. She has read crime fiction for many years and enjoys the broad range of the genre.

No Way Out
RRP: £7.99
Released: April 18 2019

A New Year is supposed to be a new beginning but not for the Esmond family.  Instead, their 2018 begins with a house fire in which two children are recovered from the blaze. A toddler Zachary is already dead and the other, 10-year-old Matty, taken into an Intensive Care Unit clinging to live.  DI Adam Farley has to put aside his own personal tragedy and ask, along with his Oxfordshire Police team - where are the children’s parents?

When the fire brigade begin to sift through the smoldering debris, another body is uncovered, so suspicions begin to centre on Dr Michael Esmond.  He’s not answering his phone or responding to police and press appeals, though he made a recent appearance at an academic conference. DI Fawley and his team begin to investigate the Esmond’s lives. After all, how does an academic afford to live in a house worth £5 million?

Neighbours describe the Esmonds’ as a family that ‘keep themselves to themselves’ but Dr Esmond was about to go through an alleged sexual harassment disciplinary case, with the unofficial hope that he’d resign. It seems that his mother’s care-home fees are in arrears. Meanwhile, Dr Esmond’s wife Samantha, has taken herself off medication, for her post-natal depression. She curiously believes that she hears and sees a ghost in their home.

The question is, was the fire a case of arson or not?

DI Fawley is determined to uncover the answer, though the case brings resonance for him, due to the tragic death of his own young son.

This is the third book in the DI Fawley series and we meet the investigating team with their various issues, rivalries, secret affairs and speculation on the state of Fawley’s marriage (due to his inexperience at ironing shirts). 

DI Fawley’s team, includes the newly promoted DS Gislingham, and the newly demoted DC Quinn, meshing together, they bring their own skills and experience to the case.  Cara Hunter portrays the team as real people with their own problems such as Verity Everett’s having to face up to her father’s worsening dementia, and DC Erica Somers agonizing over work clothes (now that she’s in the CID and no longer in uniform). 

I liked the way that Hunter gave the reader information from multiple viewpoints such as emails, interview transcripts, newspaper headlines and also flashbacks to the Esmond’s lives pre-fire. These give immediacy to the plot and also an emotional depth. It’s the background details that also give this narrative vibrancy, such as how we meet Harry, the handsome, friendly gardener who began to be part of their lives so easily.

This crime thriller is ambitious with a multi-faceted plot, which succeeds on all levels.  It has plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing or turning back to review pages - to see if you’ve missed something crucial. 

Hunter is an accomplished writer so there’s a real poignancy, compassion at the heart of the plot, especially towards the end, where she weaves a layer of sensitivity towards her characters, which makes them vulnerable and human. 

No Way Out is a great read which kept me guessing throughout and I am definitely going to catch up with the two previous DI Fawley books; though this outing can be read as a standalone in its own right.

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