I am hugely excited to be reviewing this incredible book on publication day. It’s a really gripping page-turner about a college shooting with multiple fatalities, all young women apart from the attacker, who then also killed himself. Rather than this taking place in America as we so often tragically see on the news, this takes place right here in Edinburgh at the fictional Three Rivers College.
When I first started reading the book I was really taken by the Edinburgh setting which the author captured so brilliantly. All the little details were just perfect and added so much to the story for me, particularly when describing my own area. But this story isn’t really about the where – it’s about the why.
“When the crime is so huge, but we already know who did it? We know how he did it. I guess we’ll never really know why he did it.”
The story is told through three main characters’ points of view. DCI Helen Birch, lives in Portobello, just down the hill from me actually. She has only just been promoted and moved to a new station. Before she’s even had time to settle in and get to know her new colleagues, she finds herself in charge at the scene and of the investigation.
Ishbel is the mother of the first victim, Abigail, who attends the college and had been at school with the gunman. Their mother-daughter relationship had been rather fraught and as well as grief she feels huge guilt.
Moira Summers is the mother of gunman, Ryan, and my heart just went out to her. How could you possibly come to terms with your child, a child you have loved, nurtured and cherished, being a cold blooded killer? The way she was demonised by the media, and one journalist in particular, was just awful as were the comments on news articles online etc.
There is a sense of disbelief that such a thing could happen in Scotland, in Edinburgh. It’s one of these things that only happens somewhere else – usually America if the media is to be believed. And yet this felt so plausible that it was totally terrifying. My own daughter is at Edinburgh Uni and I can only imagine how I’d feel if suddenly it was all over Twitter that there had been such a horrific incident. I should mention the inclusion throughout the book of articles from newspapers, conversations from online forums, Wikipedia extracts and Twitter conversations. They really felt very authentic and were a reflection of the way news and misinformation spreads so quickly these days.
I read All The Hidden Truths voraciously and genuinely could not put it down until I had read the final, devastating chapter. Another book to add to the top reads list for 2018!
Huge thanks to the publisher Hodder & Stoughton for my copy of the book. All The Hidden Truths is published today in hardback and ebook formats with the paperback due to follow in April next year. It will be available from your usual book retailer or you can order a Kindle copy online here: All The Hidden Truths
From the back of the book
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.
About the Author
Claire 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.