Title: The Whole Truth
Author: Cara Hunter
Published by: Penguin – Fig Tree
Publication date: 21st Fed 2021
She has everything at stake; he has everything to lose. But one of them is lying, all the same.
When an Oxford student accuses one of the university’s professors of sexual assault, DI Adam Fawley’s team think they’ve heard it all before. But they couldn’t be more wrong.
Because this time, the predator is a woman and the shining star of the department, and the student a six-foot male rugby player.
Soon DI Fawley and his team are up against the clock to figure out the truth. What they don’t realise is that someone is watching.
And they have a plan to put Fawley out of action for good…
I received an ARC of The Whole Truth via NetGalley in return for an unbiased review. Many thanks to Penguin Publishing and Cara Hunter for the copy of the book and I hope that you find my review satisfactory.
The Whole Truth is a bit of a classic in the case of detective stories – a team of varying levels of detectives are given a case which they have to solve. It’s pretty standard affair in a lot of respects but completely unconventional in others. The case in which the team is investigating is accusations of rape between a student and their university professor. The twist being the genders are mixed up from what you would usually expect. I think that’s what attracted me to request The Whole Truth, the unorthodox approach to what would usually be something uninspiring. Interwoven with the main case is one in which the lead character, DI Adam Fawley and his wife Alex, are personally connected too. I found the unravelling of the plot captivating and the progression of the two cases helped to keep the pace of the book swift.
When requesting The Whole Truth from NetGalley I didn’t realise it was the 5th book in a series involving the same characters. I think as a reader this put me on the back foot as the characters are already well established and have had relationships with one another that I missed out on and as a result I found them to be a little cliche at this point in their stories. DI Adam Fawley is a good lead character and while I enjoyed his pragmatism and approach to his work I didn’t find him all that engaging. He is a hard-working, family man. His wife is in the late trimester of pregnancy; which brings forth complications that add a bit of complexity to both of the characters. He is a decent character, but I admit, I wasn’t enamoured with him – which made part of the book a bit of a struggle; I don’t know if I cared deeply enough for his plight.
Other characters in the group, DC Quinn – a womaniser, loud-mouthed sort of lad that didn’t seem to leave much of an impression on me other than he was a bit of an over-reaching pain in the backside. DS Gislingham, who felt a bit like a non-entity compared to Fawley, as they seem to share similar personality traits. DC Everett, a bit of a shining star in the team when it comes to sexual abuse cases – I took particular enjoyment with this character, but again there didn’t seem to be much depth beyond her feeling guilty for not seeing her father more often. DC Somer who seemed to spend a lot of the book sulking about… something?
I think it’s because I am coming into the series with already established characters and connections that I have missed out on. I am sure readers of the series will have much stronger feelings for the characters. And have a better understanding of them as there are a lot of them. Thankfully, there is a Dramatis Personae at the front of the book to bring the reader up to speed.
However, the suspect and victim of the sexual abuse case steal the show. Where defined personality and character development felt lacking in the main cast, those directly involved in the case had bags of it. There are a lot of twists and turns these characters go through. It’s reminiscent of the ‘he said/she said’ of the school playground, but with a lot more sinisters undertones! How the case changes as more evidence is revealed is both entertaining and shocking (Especially the final revelation!)
Unfortunately, I found the inclusion of imagery in the book irritating – this issue may be alleviated in other presentations – because I couldn’t actually read the writing in the imagery on my kindle. The lettering was too small for me to read clearly and I feel like I missed out on vital information because of this. There are vital plot elements that are presented in the form of text message or in a table which I couldn’t see well enough, it’s a shame as I felt with this information I’d have been much better armed to figure out what was happening – thankfully, the plot wasn’t too confusing so I could still follow along without the information presented.
All this isn’t to say that The Whole Truth is a bad book, I found the pacing rapid and the interweaving of the two cases felt like a page-turner. I was eager to learn the outcome of the case regardless of the lack of empathy I felt for the characters. As for the resolution I don’t know what to make of it. The ending came quickly with a lot to wrap up in the last 5% of the novel as such the conclusion felt a little rushed and ill-considered with a few threads left unresolved which I assume will be picked up again in another book in the series.
As a final note there is a strange humour to The Whole Truth that didn’t quite sit right with me. It felt as though the author was trying to share personal in-jokes with the reader, but because they are in-jokes I didn’t really understand them. Or the need for them.
Do people really use the word ‘bloody’ that often in Oxford?
A solid mystery/thriller plot with enough engaging elements to carry the rest of the book. Some interesting seeming characters that felt a bit flat in the grand scheme of things that got a bit lost in the vast cast. The writing style didn’t quite click with me but I did enjoy the narrative. I’d certainly be willing to pick up another Cara Hunter novel, but I don’t think The Whole Truth was a great entry point for both the series or the author.
2 responses to “The Whole Truth – Cara Hunter”
Definitely an interesting premise for sure. It sounds like readers would do best to read the books in order though.
That’s the conclusion I came to as well. It was a good plot idea but the lack of depth/connection to the characters sadly ruined it for me.
Maybe if I’d started from the beginning of the series, I’d have felt differently.