Super-gripping, super-zeitgeisty courtroom thriller
Sarah Vaughan’s super-gripping, super-zeitgeisty literary thriller opens with careerist criminal barrister Kate Woodcroft feeling every one of her forty-something years. She’s successful, scrupulously hard-working, but her life outside the courtroom is empty. Cut to her clerk handing her a juicy case and everything changes in a heartbeat.
The case? Yet another married member of Her Majesty’s Government, and indeed the PM’s inner circle, a gloriously handsome, ludicrously charming, fabulously well-bred and self assured junior minister has recently admitted to an extra-marital affair with a researcher. His dutiful wife is standing by her man. So far, so very ordinaire, but the headlines really get hyperbolic when said minister is accused of rape by his scorned ex, with the alleged act taking place within Westminster itself.
Anatomy moves up through the gears and years as the chapters are in turns told from the perspective of Kate, the accused and his wife and the action is split between the pin-drop tension of the court room and the dreaming spires of Oxford in the 90s.
As one crime is played out in the Bailey, a long hidden, but not entirely forgotten crime is about to send seismic waves crashing at the highest level of society and we learn what drives the prosecuting barrister’s particular crusade.
Sarah Vaughan juggles her timelines, characters and more than a dash of political caricature with ease. In a novel with so many zeitgeisty elements–sexual politics, class division, the economics of truthfulness– the plot could get muddied, but Vaughan’s language is beautiful, her characters believable and the twisty plot littered with landmines. Beautifully addictive, with much to discuss afterwards.