Book Review – All the Hidden Truths (Claire Askew)

Real life
Dunblane Primary School in Scotland in 1996; Columbine High School in the US in 1999; and Johann Gutenberg Secondary school in Erfurt, Germany in 2002 – some of the deadliest school killings that took place around the world.

In Claire Askew’s All The Hidden Truths, recently promoted Detective Inspector (DI) Helen Birch has her hands full when a 20-year-old gunman opens fire at a local college.

book cover of crime fiction novel all the hidden truths

The story
For no apparent reason, Ryan Summers walks into Three Rivers College in the UK and kills 13 of his fellow students – all female – then turns the gun on himself. The victims’ families want answers, and DI Birch struggles to give them. Death and rape threats made to the gunman’s mother Moira don’t make her job any easier. To top it all off, the media is having a field day, with one journalist in particular (a personal experience of long ago comes into play), Grant Lockley, getting on the DI’s nerves. At the heart of it all everyone wonders: Did Ryan Summers’ mother know what he was planning?

The review
All The Hidden Truths is a crime novel I enjoyed. With the gunman known, there is no perpetrator to be caught, yet the developments kept me interested until the end. The author uses different forms of communication – Wikipedia entries, emails, online articles by the journalist, tweets, interview transcriptions, personal letters, written correspondence between police officers; and posts from a suspicious forum whose members have their own theories about what really took place. I think this was a great way to tell the story from various viewpoints.

The novel involved as many likeable characters as unlikeable ones, with DI Birch, Grant Lockley, Ryan Summers, his mother Moira, and a few others being developed more. As the title suggest, many secrets come to light throughout Askew’s story. For me, All The Hidden Truths has many of the crime fiction elements, such as conflict, a suspenseful timeline (the community wants answers now) and very high stakes – these elements all contributed to me wanting to finish this book. One criticism is that the the atuthor assumes that the reader has certain knowledge. For example, no explanation was given for the abbreviation FLO throughout the novel – I had to Google it. “Didn’t you know?,” you ask. Nope, I did not know.

To sum up
All The Hidden Truths is a quick read, a relevant book that readers of crime fiction will enjoy.

3½ out of 5 stars

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Year: 2018 | Pages: 373

Buy it here

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