Cover Image: All the Hidden Truths

All the Hidden Truths

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Member Reviews

This book sucked me in at the start when I realised it was set in Edinburgh.  Such a hard subject to read about that pulled lots of conflicting emotions out in me.  It had me wanting to keep turning the pages.  Looking forward to reading more in this set.
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A tragic and disturbing topic is a tall order for a debut novel, but Askew handles it with astonishing skill. School shootings, sadly, have happened more than once in the US, and Askew has taken the event and planted it into a UK (Scottish) college. Ryan walks into his college and kills thirteen female students. Then, himself. 

The ensuing aftermath is shared by three POVs: Ryan's mother, Moira; Ishbel, the mother of the first victim, Abigail, and lastly, DI Helen Birch, the detective in charge of the case. 

So, there is no 'whodunnit'. We know that from the get-go. It's the 'why did he do it?' and the effect on those most closely connected.

Desperation, emotion and heartbreak oozes from every pore from the start. It's a tragedy, of course, but I was starting to wonder if I could take page after page of it and, guiltily, I was rather irritated by Ishbel and her husband, Aiden, neither of whom managed to endear themselves to me. But Ishbel turns out to be a clever woman indeed.

An absolutely stunning debut by this author. Her characters are well observed and well portrayed, from the shocked and confused mother to the slimy, devious, unscrupulous and just plain odious journalist stomping into his reporting of the story with a sledgehammer. She certainly knows how to wring the pathos out of her words. 

Askew has marched into the authorial arena with flying colours, and I know I shall be reading her subsequent work.
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A great debut about an all too believable situation seen from various perspectives. I love the Edinburgh setting too. Highly recommended.
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This was tense and had me on the edge of my seat all the way through. Such a great premise and brilliant for thriller fans!
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Great debut novel from Scottish writer. 
It did take a couple of chapters to get into the setting and main characters but once established it was quite gripping. A school massacre..or spree killing by a fairly normal but obviously deep disturbed teenager. His mother not quite sure what’s going on before the event but obviously no idea how shocking the day would turn out. Her son, her beautiful boy is responsible..a mother’s nightmare. Sickened by his act yet consumed with maternal should she react? 
A novel full of heart wrenching emotion from all sides of this tragedy.
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Read May 19

An intense story of a school shooting told from the perspective of three women: Helen Birch, the DI investigating the incident; the mother of a girl who died; and the mother of the shooter. The DI, Helen, is recently promoted and given the task of establishing why Ryan – the shooter – did what he did. A task that never appears to be completed, just shunned in favour of a fight with a journalist. The characters are not especially likeable but that may be the circumstances under which we meet them. I did like the formatting of the book with the inclusion of newspaper articles and Wikipedia pages.
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An interesting read with a good storyline. Loved the pace of the storyline and was able to relate to the characters very easily. Took me a while to review this book but would read it again in a heartbeat!
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Claire Askew’s novel details the aftermath of a shooting at an Edinburgh college, during which thirteen young women lost their lives. We follow, mainly, the experiences of three women - DI Helen Birch, Ishbel, mother of Abigail, one of the slain girls, and Moira, mother of the perpetrator.

The gunman, Ryan Summers, is dead - and the main antagonist of this book is journalist Grant Lockley, a truly hateful individual who shows not a trace of decency or ethics; threatening, manipulating and intruding on private grief in the pursuit of his clickbaity articles.

I’m not sure any paper would legally get away with publishing his stuff, some of which clearly incites violence against a person - Moira Summers - against whom there isn’t a shred of evidence of any wrongdoing. Her only crime - and apparently it’s a heinous one in the eyes of the public - is to be the mother of a murderer. I know people can be awful, and I don’t doubt that some would act in this way, but I’m not sure I buy the sheer level of public hate, threat and anger directed at Moira, with cries for her to be locked up (on what grounds?).

Anyway it makes for an enthralling read, and the Edinburgh setting is well rendered.

I was fascinated to find that one main character has the same job as me - described here as “esoteric, misunderstood, sometimes even hated”. There aren’t many of us about. I’d love to know how and why the author decided to give the character this particular occupation.

I enjoyed it a lot - recommended.
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I can't lie; I almost gave up on this book and that is something I very rarely do. The story seemed to be going nowhere but at 10%, just as I was thinking of quitting something happened that kept me reading.
At a college in Edinburgh a student, Ryan Summers, goes mad with modified hand guns and 13 young women lose their lives. 
I hoped the story would go along the lines of the police's investigation into why he did it. Wanting to know was what kept me reading, so getting to the end and finding the climax of the story was a dodgy journalist getting caught hacking private emails was really disappointing. 
I can't fault the authors writing; the story is based in Edinburgh and she described the area so well I could imagine the scene in my mind, but the story was slow and boring.
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I went through a stage of reading so many school shooter books. I found most of them to be fascinating insights into the pupils who did the shooting, the survivors and what happened to the community around them. 
I honestly tried several times to get into this book but after four attempts had to give it up.
DNF at 25%
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Unfortunately I read this book a while ago and seem to have missed it when writing reviews. - sadly I cant remember enough detail to give a full review.
However, thanks to NetGalley for the ARC :-)
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I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this was a debut novel. 

It follows three points of view following a shooting at a college. It was enjoyable to see this from the points of view of the police, the mother of the shooter and the mother of one of the victims. 

It was well written and I would recommend this.
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With thanks to Netgalley for allowing me to review this book.

A good debut book, that is told from three different people's perspectives. Keeps the reader hooked from the first page to the last.
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The book is told from three points of view. The first, mother of the shooter, was easy to feel for. Her struggle, questioning herself. I did not like the choice for a troubled shooter. A stereotype, loner, loosing his dad young. These chapters were not the main part of the book and they were predictable but they did add a certain background to the story.
There is one of the mothers of a victim. This is way more explosive. I did not like the husband part of this story. There was so much already happening with struggle and loss. But it was well written and easy to get involved in the emotion. 
Then there was the police woman. This was the real interesting part in the story. A part of the story you do not often think about in such a situation. The question who did is has been answered, the story is complete and still people feel like they need justice which is impossible. It was good to shine a light on that and I like how it was written.
Despite the story it is not a heavy emotional wreck dark hole. It was captivating but left some space to breathe, for some people it might be to superficial but for me the drama level was just right.
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This book follows the aftermath of a shooting that occurs at a college. The book follows three different perspectives of characters that have been affected by the shooting. We follow the police officers investigating the shooting, the mother of one of the victims and the mother of the shooter. 

I liked seeing the different character's perspectives on the events that took place and felt that seeing the aftermath from a number of viewpoints gave the story more depth in comparison to other books that I have read that follow this topic. 

This is more of a slow burn book than a fast-paced thriller. However, the story was interesting and it really makes you think. I hadn't read anything from this author previously but I would be interested to check out more from them in the future.
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The story line revolves around a school shooting and the investigation thereof.  It was well written and I were glued to the book until the end.  Recommended.
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I am frankly stunned that this is a debut novel. I’m not at all surprised that it has been nominated for, and won, prizes. I loved everything about this book, the writing, the characters – it is so accomplished that the author has shot straight on to the top of my "must-read" authors list.
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When a lone gunman enters his college in Edinburgh and shoots dead 13 young women, before killing himself, he leaves behind him a trail of destruction, grief and questions. DI Birch attempts to lead the police force dealing with the traumatic aftermath, the questions of why Ryan Summers would do such a thing, and attempting to shield his family left behind from terrible threats. Ishbel and Moira, two grieving mothers find their lives changed forever.

This is a slow paced crime novel follow three different people left behind after a terrible tragedy. The first 20% or so of this book deals with the day before, of and after the shooting, and while we don't get any perspectives of the shooting while it happened, readers so get an idea of the scenes from a policeman who entered the building right after the attack and a media run through of the event.

I enjoyed the exploration of each characters' shock and grief following the shooting, as well as the difficult relationship they both had with their children. Moira's POV in particular was, both terribly sad and intriguing as she had to figure how to process her grief over her son while all too aware of the grief he had caused others because of his terrible act of violence.

The book does have that trope of a lead detective who has something in their past that seems to have given them a personal stake in the case. I don't always like this and it was okay in this book - I liked that the DI didn't let her history completely cloud her judgement and I do feel like her not having that backstory wouldn't actually have affected the story that much.

I did have some issues with the portrayal of media in this story, once again, like most thrillers/crime books I read. There was a lot of immoral, tabloid-esque stories published about the shooting and one journalist who basically went against any kind of newsroom rules ever. I'm not a fan of the terrible journalist and inaccurate/immoral reporting and sensationalist media due to us living in a world now where there is such distrust in legitimate media and 'fake news' is thrown about.

I did accept the storyline with the journalist as it became more a part of the plot and i liked how it all resolved.
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One thing you should know about me is that I have an immensely long list of Netgalley e-arcs to catch up on. This is one of them. You should also know that I often forget what these books are about but I've requested them so I might as well read them. What I vaguely remember is that I requested this at a time when there had been quite a few terrorist attacks and this fictionalised version of it felt like it might offer up some answers as to why terrorists do what they do (it didn't, I won't lie).

I was quite conflicted while reading this book. On the one hand, it was really interesting and I was really hooked on the ins and outs of the shooting and what his motive was and how people were going to deal with the situation. It felt very real with flocks of protestors and online hate comments and sadistic journalism. I have to comment that I occasionally felt like I was reading an episode of Line of Duty with DI Birch's narrative. She made a convincing Kate Fleming. 

On the other hand, the book just progressed so slowly. When you think you're halfway through, think again because you've probably only made it 30% through. While I can understand the constant grief and the need to really explore the characters' thoughts and feelings in-depth, I think some of that could have been hacked away to allow for better storytelling. I didn't feel like I really knew any of the characters, which was a let down since the 'grieving' was meant to leave everything bare. 

Generally, All The Hidden Truths was rather mediocre. I don't really know if there was meant to be a big reveal or a plot twist. I felt like I was just reading about the grieving process - which was really well done - rather than about any 'solution' or detective work as I'd expect from a novel of this calibre. Thank you to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for this ARC in exchange for an honest review - all opinions expressed are my own!
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A great, quick and easy read! I loved the three main female characters and reading how their lives changed after the shooting. It would be interesting to see if Helen Birch's story continues?
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