12 Hours 2 Min | Crime/Suspense | Harper Audio | Release Date: 12/01/2015
I am one of those people who really got into true crime after listening to the Serial podcast. I like how true crime gives you a snapshot of people’s lives and how chance encounters and small moments can change lives forever.
Because I dive so much into true crime I don’t generally gravitate towards crime fiction however, I was in the mood for some plotty fiction with momentum and maybe some plot twists— crime fiction seemed to fit the bill and What She Knew was one of the top audiobooks on Scribd. It’s ominous background and san-serif text instantly told me it was suspense/crime fiction.
Set in the small city of Bristol, England What She Knew flips POV between Rachel, a recently divorced single mother and Detective Inspector Clemo; their paths collide when Rachel’s eight-year-old son is abducted in broad daylight. Rachel has an emotional outburst during a press conference that makes the public suspicious of her. As the case hits the national spotlight both Clemo and Rachel endure public outrage, dark family secrets and lies that threaten to crumble the investigation.
Because of the first person POV it feels in the beginning like there is some unreliable narrator stuff happening or that there was going to be a major plot twist, but honestly most of this book felt like a procedural with the kind of bonkers out of left-field reveals you’d find in a 2010’s episode of Law and Order SVU –that had nothing to really do with the main crime.
Audiobook narrators Penelope Rawlins and Dugald Bruce-Lockhart are a dynamic pair. They really work the silences in the text and give emotional moments room to breathe. They capture the hopelessness of the situation as everyone scrambles to find the missing child. Rawlins narration mimics Rachel’s fragility as she endures harsh accusations and is publicly shamed for losing her own child. Bruce-Lockhart gets that tough authoritative tone as Inspector Clemo, but I really liked his no-nonsense lilting portrayal of the Scottish police chief.
I like reading books that take place in other countries and it was a nice change of pace to read a British book that didn’t take place in London. I think my only real barrier to entry was trying to understand how their police system works.
When I finished this book I thought it was a little outlandish and that the portrayal of the media and police was over the top…then I listened toTrue Crime Obsessed talk about The Disappearance of Madeline McCann which just had a lot of rampant and harmful speculation, so I wonder if Gilly McMillian was inspired by the case at all ?
Suspenseful and a little head scratchy this is a book that will keep you on your toes, but doesn’t quite hit the landing.