I have read a lot of police procedural novels in my reading life, both American and British (with a few from other countries as well). A police procedural is a crime novel where the story is told from the point of view of the police or other law enforcement body who is investigating the crime, which is usually murder and quite often serial murders. The reader follows the investigation and sees the detectives making enquiries and finding clues. Quite often parts of the book feature the criminal so that you can see how far behind the police are in their investigations, although usually they will find the perpetrator by the end (although not always). It is a reasonably common feature of this type of book for the story to involve a look at the personal lives of the detectives and even for them and their families to be personally involved in or threatened by the investigation. The main detective is often flawed in some way, has difficult relationships, is mistrusted by colleagues, has a habit of breaking the rules or has some sort of addiction – or occasionally all of these things !
Good examples of this sort of book include Reginal Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe books, Elly Griffiths’ Brighton mysteries, Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels, Ann Cleeves’ Vera books and many, many others. I have reviewed a raft of this sort of book on this blog before and you can find a few here (Antonia Hawkins), here (a new police series by Ann Cleeves), here where I review three crime novels, here (Peter May’s crime novels set in Scotland) and here (Reginald Hill’s books set in Yorkshire).
I have absolutely no idea at all how realistic these books are and how far they reflect actual police practice. Given that the books are very different there are either a wide variety of ways to run a police service or possibly each of them adjusts the truth for artistic reasons but in a different way for each series. These books usually come in series and the reader gets to know the personal lives of many characters as they move through the volumes. As most readers of this blog will have noticed I do enjoy a series and I have read lots of this type of book in my reading life.
The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter is one of a series where the main character is DI Adam Fawley. I haven’t read any of these stories before so the characters were all new to me but the author/publisher had kindly included a character list with some details about the police team at the start which was very helpful indeed. The story has two main threads – an accusation of sexual harassment by a male student against a female professor and the release of a man from prison who holds a grudge against Fawley’s wife.
The story is told from the point of view of various characters both from the police and those involved in the cases being investigated which means that by the end of the book the reader knows more than the characters. There is also the use of various documents to tell part of the story – transcripts of a true crime podcast, handwritten notes by characters and various police reports. The chapters are short and the point of view changes frequently including the inclusion of some flashbacks. I liked the way that the story was told and I loved the different documents which told part of the story although I did find some of them a bit difficult to read as the print was very small – I suspect that might be a real issue if reading on a kindle.
I really enjoyed this book. I liked the variety of characters and the glimpses into their personal lives. I thought the questions about truth and how you could determine it when there seemed to be no physical evidence to be interesting and also the whole issue about what the evidence really proved. The author kept me guessing about what happened in one thread right until the end and, while the book was self-contained, I still had questions lingering about how some of the people concerned will handle in the future what happens to them in this story. I shall now prowl the local charity shops and see if I can pick up others in this series.