OR: Without Consent

A review that originally appeared on the Waterstones website back in 2007:-



Forensic physician Anya Crichton becomes involved in the hunt for a serial rapist who appears to be escalating, returning to murder his victims. The prime suspect is Geoffrey Willard, released from prison after serving time for the rape and murder of a young girl, but although there are similarities Anya isn’t convinced. The situation is further complicated in a case where nothing adds up, when the police find evidence that the killer-rapist has been operating for a considerable time.

Women writers – Cornwell, Reichs, Slaughter –have cornered the market when it comes to the forensics sub-genre, which should scotch all talk of the gentler sex. What differentiates Australian Fox from her contemporaries is the insight she provides into the mindset of the investigator, the way in which Anya is shown to care for the victims, to prioritise their needs, and all we learn of the background, both political and procedural, to investigating cases of sexual assault, much of which makes uncomfortable reading. In lieu of cut by cut descriptions of autopsies she gives us a more human dimension, a story illuminated by rays of compassion, with Anya’s first responsibility, as she reminds her colleagues, not to some abstract concept of justice, but to the living, breathing woman who has been so horrifically attacked.

“Without Consent” has all the elements of a first rate thriller – a fast paced plot, an intriguing mystery with the requisite number of red herrings, convincing forensic work and case building, a strong central character (albeit some of the supporting cast are good cop/bad cop clichéd) with an interesting selection of problems to deal with, both personal and professional – but it’s the human element that makes it special, more than simply a scientific conundrum to be solved by the lab guy with the biggest microscope.

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