Updated: Sep 26
Title: Hope to Die Author: Cara Hunter Published: 21st July 2022 Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Crime, Fiction
Start Date: 6th September 2022 Finish Date: 7th September 2022
When a body is found in a farmhouse in a gruesome state, DI Adam Fawley is one of the first on the scene. The murder leads Fawley to a convoluted investigation from the past, and a family torn apart by a devastating crime involving the disappearance of a child.
Can Fawley piece together the facts of history with clues in the present? Sometimes the truth is the hardest answer to face up to.
I have read this in the completely wrong order, this is the latest of Cara Hunter's series. it is packed with her trademark insertions in the narrative that include police interview transcripts, social media comments, psychiatric reports, details of a 2016 Netflix investigation, phone conversations, online media reports and Wikipedia entries. The police are called to a remote farmhouse in Wytham, after a report of a gunshot from a member of the public, where an elderly couple, Richard and Margaret Swann reside, a 'burglar', who cannot be identified, has been shot dead by Richard which he claims was an act of self-defence. So begins a twisted and complex investigation where little is as it appears, as the police try to determine why the elderly couple failed to call the police.
Before long, it becomes clear that the Swanns changed their name by deed poll after a notorious court trial in which their daughter, Camilla aka 'the chameleon', was convicted of the murder of her baby on the basis of circumstantial evidence, no body was ever recovered. After 17 years, Camilla is still serving her life sentence at HMP Heathside. DNA evidence obtained from the victim proves that the dead man's mother is Camilla, clear evidence that she was not guilty of murdering her baby. As Adam and his hardworking team look into the past, at the previous police investigation and Camilla as a schoolgirl, her multiple pregnancies, her friends and family, and the present, who is the dead man and how did he come to make the fateful visit to the farmhouse to see the Swanns? There is surprise twist after twist in this dark and disturbing crime story.
Through dogged police work (including young DCs Hansen and Chloe Sargent who will both go far!) they make some shocking discoveries and my jaw literally drops on occasions and possibly the odd little naughty may be uttered at some of the explosive revelations. They sure have poked a bear, opened a can of worms et cetera et cetera and every other idiom involving hornets and so on. Talk about a mystifying mysterious case as this is the very epitome of one! The plot is complex and very clever, the pace rises and falls appropriately and it’s compelling and entertaining from the beginning to the end.
I don’t want to give too much away but at the centre of the puzzling conundrum is a character who is fascinating, who will make you recoil in horror and who is most definitely a chameleon who changes and lies with startling alacrity. That characterisation is superb as your emotions change as new evidence emerges. It’s full of very good twists and turns, it’s exciting and unpredictable and as yet another excellent addition to this outstanding series.
I hope number seven is underway as like every other reader who loves this series I can’t wait to see what’s next in store for Adam, by then I hope DC Erica Somer has recovered and back to work and that DC Bradley Carter gets his comeuppance, the snake. And I will go back and read the other five!
In the acknowledgements, Hunter notes that Camilla’s history of multiple unplanned and secret pregnancies, resulting in two babies given up for adoption in addition to the missing baby, is based on the case of Australian Keli Lane. It’s truly a case of fact being stranger than fiction and worth looking up the reports or podcasts made about her after finishing the novel.
Hunter’s imagining of what happened to Camilla’s baby results in a fast-paced, intricate plot, filled with suspense and some great twists. It really is an intriguing case. Fawley finds himself interviewing Camilla in prison and she truly is just as slippery and unhelpful as reported in her original interviews. A brilliant read recommended for all fans of crime fiction.