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As a former scriptwriter, Candy Denman is well versed in setting a scene quickly, as seen in popular dramas like The Bill and Heartbeat. Her books are no different, well drawn, tightly plotted and fast-paced. In #YouToo, the third outing for protagonist Dr Jocasta Hughes, we are immersed in her world from the very first pages when, in her role as forensic medical practitioner to Hastings police force, she’s called out to examine a victim of apparent sexual asphyxiation. And she’s not at all happy about it.

There was little room for dignity particularly if it was during an unnatural or unusual sexual act. … The last actions of this poor man were going to headline for weeks to come. … His surviving relatives, friends and colleagues were going to have a very difficult time ahead.’

The victim is a criminal defence lawyer and it’s not an isolated incident, the bodies soon piling up, all found in similarly sexually compromising circumstances. It’s up to the good doctor to try to connect the dots between them.

Set in the real-life English coastal towns of Hastings and St Leonards, the Jocasta Hughes books are extremely visual, Denman a mistress of detail, mixing real and fictional locations with ease.

The subject matter of the book couldn’t be more timely, the title referencing the #MeToo movement, supporting survivors of sexual violence. Denman says her novel ‘highlights how much more needs to be done to prevent sexual misconduct and harassment by those in positions of power’, adding, ‘we all need #MeToo to make a difference’.

And, really, ain’t that the truth.

In this mad, mad Donald Trump–Boris Johnson world we live in, it is all the more important for writers, broadcasters, filmmakers to shine a spotlight on the ugliness of sexual misconduct. Only then will behaviours that are distressingly far too common and distressingly far too permissible in our current society be properly challenged.

Highly recommended.

 

 

 

#YouToo | Candy Denman | Crime Scene Books | May 2019 | paperback | £8.99

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See also our interview with Candy Denman which originally appeared in HOT

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgements: Book text quotes © Candy Denman 2019. This review is published as part of the publisher virtual book tour. Many thanks to Anne Cater and to the publisher for sending a review copy and cover image. Please check out the other participants on the tour. All opinions are our own. All rights reserved.

Also of interest:Changing the narrative: The Red Word’;By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’; ‘Permission by Saskia Vogel‘; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised‘; ‘Helga Flatland’s study of A Modern Family’;  ‘The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone’; ‘Call Me Star Girl’; ‘Blood Orange’; ‘Lisa Ko’s The Leavers, Dialogue’s brilliant debut; ‘We should all be feminists‘; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’;RW Kwon’s The Incendiaries’; ‘Beauty in translation – Roxanne Bouchard’s French Canadian noir‘; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”‘; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

Select Q&As/interviews: ‘Lilja Sigurðardóttir’; ’Tom Cox’; ‘Vanda Symon; ‘Gunnar Staalesen’; Some like it hot – the joy of Carole Mortimer, award-winning novelist‘; Gina Kirkham

Film: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) – a Billy Wilder classic?; Night Mail (1936), changing the face of British film; A Colour Box by Len Lye (1935); The Splendour of George Stevens’ Giant (1956).

 

This review is © 2019 by The Literary Shed. All rights reserved. All opinions are our own. We welcome your feedback and comments. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please do contact us to request permission. Thank you so much.