No Way Out
It’s one of the most disturbing cases DI Fawley has ever worked.
The Christmas holidays, and two children have just been pulled from the wreckage of their burning home in North Oxford. The toddler is dead, and his brother is soon fighting for his life.
Why were they left in the house alone? Where is their mother, and why is their father not answering his phone?
Then new evidence is discovered, and DI Fawley’s worst nightmare comes true.
Because this fire wasn’t an accident.
It was murder.
Title: No Way Out | Author: Cara Hunter | Series: DI Fawley #3 | Publisher: Penguin | Pages: 480 | ISBN: 9780241283493 | Publication date: 22nd March 2019 | Source: ARC .mobi from Net Galley
‘No Way Out’ is an efficient, nicely detailed police procedural that didn’t work quite as well for me as I would have expected it to. On paper it has everything I like in this kind of book – a varied cast, lots of forensic information and a good enough premise. In the end though it felt too much like other things, without enough of a hook of its own to pull me in.
The book centers on the investigation of a house fire by DI Adam Fawley and his team in the Thames Valley Police. Naturally there are bodies in the charred remains of the house, as well as a strong suspicion of foul play. It’s the third Fawley book, but the first that I’ve read. It’s clear that a lot has gone on in the earlier books as there a numerous references back to previous events, both the crimes the team have investigated and the details of their personal lives. Author Cara Hunter handles this well, summarising what has gone before without dropping too many spoilers. I never felt like I was missing things because I hadn’t read the other books, but I also don’t feel like they’ve now been ruined for me.
The Oxford setting means you can’t help but compare it to Colin Dexter’s brilliant ‘Inspector Morse’ novels, and sadly it’s just not as good. The main issue I had is that the mystery never really got under my skin. You know how sometimes when you read a detective story the desire to know what really happened is all consuming? That just wasn’t the case here. Worse still, I didn’t feel like Fawley and team cared that much either. Too often it felt like they were doing a job rather than crusading for justice. I suspect that this is in fact the reality of modern policing, but it doesn’t make for brilliant reading.
That’s not to say that the book is awful. The story is relatively simple, but Hunter tells it in quite a complicated and interesting way, with a mixture of third and first person perspective (the first being Fawley). She also includes present day narrative on the investigation and extended flashbacks on the build up to the crime that flesh things out. On top of that, there are numerous sections which come from other sources: excerpts of police interviews, stories from news websites, and so on. These sometimes work well (although there were some formatting issues in the Advanced Reader Copy I had) but often feel like they don’t add enough to the story to justify the pages they take up.
The characters feel convincing, especially the family that are the victims of the fire, but critically I didn’t really care about any of them. That may be why the mystery didn’t grip me and it certainly left me wanting to finish the book so I could read something else rather than because I wanted closure.
‘No Way Out’ is a book that’s entering a very crowded marketplace, and while it has some original ideas (especially in the way the story is told), it ended up feeling like a bit of an also ran to me. Not terrible by any means, and if you love this kind of thing it might well be for you, but for me it lacked the spark needed to make it essential reading.