All the Hidden Truths by Claire Askew

Out now in paperback!



Book blurb

This is a fact: Ryan Summers walked into Three Rivers College and killed thirteen women, then himself.

But no one can say why.

The question is one that cries out to be answered – by Ryan’s mother, Moira; by Ishbel, the mother of Abigail, the first victim; and by DI Helen Birch, put in charge of the case on her first day at her new job. But as the tabloids and the media swarm, as the families’ secrets come out, as the world searches for someone to blame… the truth seems to vanish.

A stunningly moving novel from an exciting new voice in crime, ALL THE HIDDEN TRUTHS will cause you to question your assumptions about the people you love, and reconsider how the world reacts to tragedy.

My thoughts

The story of the aftermath of a lone killer who murders thirteen young women and injures one man in a shooting at an Edinburgh college. Yes this is a book about death and grieving to some extent but it covers the police investigation – they know who did it, just not why, so is this just a futile exercise? – newly promoted D I Helen Birch investigates, co-ordinates the family support and, after a surprise encounter has to deal with some of her own ghosts. DCI McLeod, her boss, is ‘leading’ the investigation but he’s a bit old school and has a tendency to put the team on edge. The families – it follows mainly Abigail’s family – and Moira the mother of the perpetrator. It also shows that media frenzy (in the shape of one particular reporter, Gary) – the need to know everything however inappropriate and put it out to the world regardless of what this kind of reporting does to the families – can have some devastating effects and yet may even, possibly for all the wrong reasons, end up giving the strength to battle.

It shows how justice cannot always be found but that maybe closure can be – albeit in a somewhat unexpected and surprising way.

This is may be a difficult book for some to read although it does not wallow there is a deep, sometimes overwhelming sadness in the story – yes from the very act, from what happened, from the heroism, from the waste of lives or, rather, what they could have been but also from the aftermath what happens to the families who have lost loved ones only to find some hidden truths that will break them, build them or even do both. It is a testament to how humans survive terrible tragedy even when that tragedy has been compounded by those hidden truths.

This book is well worth reading.

With thanks to Hodder and Stoughton via NetGalley for an eCopy of this book. Thoughts are my own.


Publisher:                          Hodder Paperbacks (2 May 2019)

Language: English           Paperback: 384 pages

ISBN-10: 1473673046       ISBN-13: 978-1473673045

Author:                             865A154B-A211-4A09-8F88-2B27209335C8Claire Askew is a poet, novelist and the current Writer in Residence at the University of Edinburgh. Her debut novel in progress was the winner of the 2016 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, and longlisted for the 2014 Peggy Chapman-Andrews (Bridport) Novel Award. Claire holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh and has won a variety of accolades for her work, including the Jessie Kesson Fellowship and a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award.

Her debut poetry collection, This changes things, was published by Bloodaxe in 2016 and shortlisted for the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award and a Saltire First Book Award. In 2016 Claire was selected as a Scottish Book Trust Reading Champion, and she works as the Scotland tutor for women’s writing initiatives Write Like A Grrrl! and #GrrrlCon.

You can follow Claire Askew @OneNightStanzas

More about Claire Askew Scottish Book Trust




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