Review: No Way Out by Cara Hunter

9780241283493.jpgLike its predecessors, Close to Home and In the Dark, the third Adam Fawley mystery, No Way Out, is a frenetically-paced, meticulously crafted whodunit. Compelling and suspenseful, Cara Hunter keeps every stage of an investigation into a deadly house fire clear while peeling back layers of her expansive cast’s personal lives, delivering a novel you’ll devour in hours, with characters and a plot that will linger for days.

No Way Out opens with two children hauled from an inferno that was once their home in North Oxford, their parents undiscovered among the wreckage, which is quickly determined to be an act of arson; therefore, homicide.  Adam Fawley — struggling with a personal crisis — is the leading investigator, but takes more of a backseat this time, sharing the spotlight with various other members of the Thames Valley Police, including DC Quinn, DS Gislingham, DC Erica Somer and DC Everett, as they dig into the lives of Michael and Samantha Esmond, and their two children.

Writing in short, snappy scenes that tick like a time bomb as they flick between characters, and events of the past and present, No Way Out is intricately plotted, fast moving and full of surprises.

ISBN: 9780241283493
Format: Paperback / softback
Pages: 384
Imprint: Penguin Books Ltd
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publish Date: 30-Jan-2019
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Cara Hunter — My New Crime-Writer Obsession

Close to HomeOver the last decade or so, I feel like a new prerequisite of crime fiction has been unwittingly established, that demands an unconventional protagonist. You know, a detective with an outlandish flaw: they’re brilliant, but — oh no! — they’re also a bloodthirsty serial killer. Their skills of deduction are unparalleled, but — say it ain’t so! — they’re addicted to the taste of human flesh; they’re a cannibal. They’re the greatest detective to ever walk the earth, but — no, it’s not possible! — they’re a ghost, intangible and invisible to everyone but a Golden Retriever named Lancelot.

There’s nothing wrong with such protagonists — well, the Golden Retriever thing might be a step too far — but personally, all I want from my crime novels are complex plots packed with legitimate red herrings and believable characters. My favourite mysteries are compulsive page-turners grounded in reality. That’s why I love John Rebus, and Harry Bosch,  and Sean Duffy — and now, Cara Hunter’s Adam Fawley.

I binged Cara Hunter’s two books recently — her debut, Close to Home, and her second, In the Dark — after being recommended them by fellow Australian bookseller Jay Dwight. And I’m obsessed. And impressed. Because Hunter’s books are perfect encapsulations of my idea of the best crime fiction: fast-paced, laced with genuine intrigue and suspense, featuring an incredible cast of characters you’ll want to spend more time with, both in the squad room and outside of it. Detective Inspector Adam Fawley and his team of detectives deserve to become household names. I’ve no doubt they will be. And not because of their quirks or eccentricities; because they’re normal people, like you and me, with families, and ingrained flaws and foibles. They’re not perfect. They’re human, prone to mistakes. They’re real.

In the DarkClose to Home spotlights Fawley’s investigation to the disappearance of a young child. In the Dark sees him tasked with untangling a case involving the discovery of a woman and child locked in a basement. They’re standalone novels — tendrils of continuity link the two, in the same way that each Bosch and Rebus novel are sequential, but are ultimately independent stories — although I do recommend reading Close to Home first, simply to observe the perceptible improvements in Hunter’s storytelling between books, which is impressive to begin with, but seismic with regard to its refinement. Both are frenetically-paced, unputdownable whodunits. Both prove that if you’re a serious lover of crime friction, Cara Hunter’s burgeon series should take pride of place in your collection.

I am counting down the days until No Way Out is in my hands.

Close to Home

ISBN: 9780241283097
Format: Paperback / softback (198mm x 129mm x 24mm)
Pages: 400
Imprint: Penguin Books Ltd
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publish Date: 14-Dec-2017
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

In the Dark

ISBN: 9780241283202
Format: Paperback / softback (198mm x 129mm x 27mm)
Pages: 448
Imprint: Viking
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publish Date: 12-Jul-2018
Country of Publication: United Kingdom