“All The Hidden Truths” from Claire Askew was our real time book club book of the month, it got a massive thumbs up from everyone in the group. (Book Source: Local Library Loan)
Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the official blurb says:
All the Hidden Truths is the story of a tragic shooting at an Edinburgh college and its aftermath. It is narrated by three women at the heart of the story – the mother of a victim and the mother of the shooter, and DI Helen Birch who is tasked in solving the case. The book is both a “knotty crime novel” and a story of grief “trying to make sense of something that defies reason”.
Readers of Kate Atkinson, Denise Mina and Susie Steiner will love it – along with anyone who wants their fiction both moving and gripping.
School shootings are horrific stories we are used to seeing on the news and we watch in horror as the terror unfolds. All The Hidden Truths sets such an incident in a college in Edinburgh and we watch as the lives of those affected are impacted in the aftermath.
Told from the point of view of the shooter’s mother, Moira Summer; Ishbel, the mother of Abigail who was the first to be shot and DI Helen Birch who has been tasked with investigating the shootings, this novel grabbed me right from the start. An almost poetic beginning (it comes as no surprise that Claire Askew is also a poet) the story unfolds with the most compelling and vivid imagery, taking us inside the head of the three women and firmly places the reader right in the heart of the plot. There is no gratuitous coverage of the shootings, the description of the incident is short and factual but rather we are taken on the journey of three women, desperately trying to come to terms and work out what happened. We delve into family secrets as we watch the story unfold. As a reader I found myself thinking, “what if…?”. I found myself sympathising with all three women as I explored the story from each of their points of view.
The novel also explored the nasty side of the tabloid press with one particular journalist, Grant Lockley, who stooped lower than a snake’s belly to get his story. I’m saying no more about him, but read it and tell me if it doesn’t make you want to punch him!
From family secrets, online trolling and conspiracy theory this is an outstanding character driven novel that seeps deep into your very being. It’s hard to believe that this is a debut novel, a powerful psychological exploration of the impact and aftermath of a tragic event.
All The Hidden Truths is available to purchase from:
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.
Her first novel, All the Hidden Truths, was published in 2018.