All the Rage by Cara Hunter:  Steeped in gritty reality, spine-tingling tension and clever, complex detective work - book review -

All the Rage
All the Rage

A distressed teenage girl wandering down a road on the outskirts of Oxford was dragged off the street, a plastic bag pulled over her face and her wrists tied, and then driven to an isolated location where she was subjected to what sounds like a serious assault.

All the Rage

Cara Hunter

By Pam Norfolk

If you thought Cara Hunter’s DI Fawley series couldn’t get any better after last year’s pulsating No Way Out, then get your hands on All the Rage and enjoy a writer at the peak of her powers.

From a leafy corner of Oxford, Hunter is fast finding a comfortable perch on the upper branches of the flourishing crime-writing tree, penning chilling, thrilling and gripping novels set in the city that spawned the unforgettable Inspector Morse.

Steeped in gritty reality, spine-tingling tension and clever, complex detective work, rendered so authentic that you feel like you are tagging along with the murder squad, Hunter’s crime series has won widespread acclaim for its artful plotting and an original narrative device which features news reports, social media posts, police interviews and scene-of-crime reports, allowing readers intriguing insights into a police investigation.

The result is superbly crafted, fast-paced mysteries starring a cast of compelling characters from all walks of life, contemporary issues that are often hard-hitting and deeply emotive, and stories with more twists and turns than a snakes-and-ladders board.

In this new outing for DI Adam Fawley, a taxi driver finds a dazed and distressed teenage girl wandering down a road on the outskirts of Oxford. The story she tells is terrifying… she was dragged off the street, a plastic bag pulled over her face and her wrists tied, and then driven to an isolated location where she was subjected to what sounds like a serious assault.

The victim is 18-year-old fashion student Faith Appleyard who, despite her ordeal, initially refused to report the incident to the police and, with her mother’s support, is now refusing to press charges, claiming it was just ‘a prank.’

Despite Faith’s reluctance to co-operate, Fawley and his detectives are doing their best to investigate, but is the teenager hiding something, and if so, what?

And why does the inspector keep getting the uncomfortable feeling that this case has similarities to the 1999 conviction of a man called Gavin Parry, known as the Roadside Rapist, who Fawley was instrumental in putting behind bars on a life sentence, but who always vehemently claimed he was innocent.

When another teenager goes missing, Fawley knows his time is running out… because if he ignores the past any longer, this girl may not be coming back.

Reading Hunter’s new thriller is an electrifying, utterly engrossing experience. Information drip-feeds into the story like a constantly flowing stream, unloading explosive revelations like scatter-bombs, and turning all expectations on their head right up until the final, jaw-dropping page.

As always the resourceful Fawley, and his eclectic team, including intriguing new face DC Anthony Asante, are at the beating heart of the investigation with their personal and professional lives perfectly balanced against the unfolding of a fascinating mystery which abounds with red herrings, devilish twists, and witnesses and suspects whose guilt or innocence seem to fluctuate at every turn.

It’s a testing time for Fawley on every level as he and his wife Alex – still haunted by the death of their young son – discover that she is pregnant again, and he tackles a baffling crime that leads him into the dark recesses of social media, and throws up serious questions over his handling of a 20-year-old rape case.

With its masterful plotting, superb police procedural, rich characterisation, tension that bristles like a coiled spring, and Hunter’s brand of leavening dark humour, All the Rage is about as good as crime writing gets.

(Penguin, paperback, £7.99)