Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan
After overdosing on psychological thrillers in 2017 I’d backed away from the genre…until Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan grabbed my attention.
Kate has fought for the victims of rape, assault and abuse ever since qualifying as a barrister. When she’s handed the paperwork for her next case, the name screams at her from the page. James Whitehouse; junior Home Office Minister, husband, father, Oxford graduate and close personal friend of the Prime Minister. Kate knows this will be a career-defining case. Prosecuting a man like James would always be difficult, especially for something as heinous as rape.
Sophie is everything she needs to be, strong for her children, silent for the press and ever there for her husband the politician. Her perfect world is shaken when James admits to an affair and is rocked even more when it becomes clear that the press know. Then he’s accused of rape, and she knows things will never be the same again. She’s forced to re-examine her perfect husband.
It’s easy to spot some of the real life inspirations behind Sarah Vaughan’s third novel. One that stands out above the rest is the overprivileged dining club that James and the future Prime Minister are members of. Anyone that saw the infamous photo of David Cameron and the rest of the Bullingdon Club will have it spring to mind immediately. Vaughn’s previous role as a political correspondent for The Guardian also shines through, adding an authenticity to the plot that draws you in with just how believable the situations are.
The plot alternates between the modern day court case and main characters university years. This allows the reader to understand the toxic masculinity and the privileged background that had lead to the rape accusation. James is a loathsome character but it’s Sophie and Kate that really held my attention, both following logical paths that are completely understandable yet heart-wrenching to follow. Kate’s on a mission to see justice served from day one, whereas Sophie believes everything will work out in the end, until she starts to hear the evidence.
Anatomy of a Scandal is a compelling, uncomfortable and thought-provoking novel that had me gripped to the last page. There’s a plethora of psychological thrillers hitting the shelves at the moment but believe me when I say this is the cream of the crop.
If you like this you’ll love Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough.