Sophie's seemingly perfect life is turned upside down when news emerges that her husband, James Whitehouse, a junior minister, had an affair with a colleague who now accuses him of sexual assault. Kate is a prosecutor who specialises in cases of sexual violence. Every day she hears gruesome details of victims looking for justice and Kate feels helpless when she can't deliver it. But the case against James Whitehouse seems different and Kate will do everything to get justice done. As Sophie stands by her husband, Kate's desire to condemn James turns out to be much more than justice for a victim.
Weaving between London and Oxford, between the past and the present, and between two women so different but yet connected, this is a legal thriller about issues that unfortunately are too frequent. The novel is character-driven, Sophie and Kate are two strong and well-drawn characters, and the author goes deep into describing and exploring the darkest secrets and thoughts of the characters. I loved the author's attention to details, especially her descriptions of the English justice system, and her writing is excellent and compelling. Insightful, dark, addictive, thought-provoking, this is a novel that I couldn't put down. (NP)
Barrister Kate Woodcroft is committed to bringing the guilty to justice: particularly the rapists, abusers and predators of this world. So when a new brief lands on her desk, she doesn't hesitate in taking it on, although it may just be the biggest case of her career, and her life. James Whitehouse, a junior Home Office minister, is accused of raping his parliamentary researcher, Olivia Lytton. Without even plunging the depths of the case, Kate is convinced that he is guilty and she wants to be the one to make sure he pays. James' wife, Sophie, however, doesn't want to believe the worst. James may be charming and flirtatious but a rapist, surely not? As the case goes through court, Kate and Sophie are tested to their limits.
This novel marks a new direction for Sarah Vaughan, whose previous two novels include The Art of Baking Blind and The Farm at the Edge of the World, but she clearly excels in this genre. It is certainly a gripping and all-encompassing read and she brings to life the different worlds of the courtroom, of university life and of Westminster superbly well. Her characters too are engaging and multi-faceted, although perhaps it is a slight shame that we don't hear directly from Olivia and as such as the victim of the piece, her story which is central to the plot gets a bit lost in relation to the personal dramas of James, Kate and Sophie. But that aside, this is both exceptionally written and hauntingly relevant. A real tour de force, I hope to see more novels of this vein from this talented author. (JC)