As she has done throughout her series featuring Sydney police detective Ella Marconi, Katherine Howell has once again produced a story very different from its predecessors. It opens when paramedic Rowan Wylie pulls into the car park of a local Playland with his granddaughter and spots a car he recognises. He wonders if its owner, his colleague Stacey Durham, is here too and if so, why? Does she want him to apologise? After taking his granddaughter into the centre he looks for Stacey and when he can’t find her anywhere he takes a closer look at her car. Is that blood on the front seat? He calls her husband James and soon the police are involved too in the search for a woman who seems to have disappeared completely.
I was having the devil of a time getting hold of a print copy of this book so was quite chuffed when I noticed it available at Audible with a narration by Australian actor Caroline Lee. It’s so rare to have books by Australian authors available in this format and I thoroughly enjoyed the treat. Of course it helped that the book was a corker too.
The title is a an apt one and not only because at one point Stacey’s husband is directed via text message to tell the truth in order to get his wife back. Everyone, it seems, has something to hide. What is it that Rowan should apologise for? What about Stacey’s sister who used to go out with James before he married Stacey, what is she not saying? And is there something strange about Stacey’s niece Paris who is a trainee paramedic who can’t seem to overcome a mental block in becoming successful at the job? And is James a distressed husband or is there something more to his aborted suicide attempt? I like the way that the book depicts the realism of policing – that it mostly involves a lot of painstaking, routine interviewing and following-up random bits of information of which only a small percentage will prove useful – but still manages to be entirely compelling by showing how all of Stacey’s friends and family have things they’d rather not say.
For readers who have grown to know Ella Marconi over the course of the series there is some positive personal development for her here in that her relationship with Callum seems to be on sound footing. This despite the fact his mother hates her (because Ella investigated a cold case in which her husband was found guilty of a 20 year old murder). Callum is more easily accepted by Ella’s family, although her Aunt’s interrogation of him about his intentions make Ella squirm (and readers chuckle). But as usual with this series the detective doesn’t take over the case completely, and the characters involved in the core story all have plenty of room to grow. The depiction of young Paris, aching to be good at something but allowing her fears to almost paralyse her, is a particularly good one.
It seems from the author’s afterword that the pressure to keep innovating and maintain such high quality has taken its toll and this is to be the last book in the series. At least for now. While I am saddened by the news (and am a little cross that I was allowed to dive in to the latest book so recklessly, if I’d known it would be the last I might have saved it up) I do admire Howell’s willingness to walk away from a success and am glad the series won’t suffer the ignoble fate of fading into second-rate territory. It is definitely one of my absolute favourite series as there isn’t a dud in the bunch and TELL THE TRUTH offers a fitting finale. I’ll await with interest to see if Howell will turn her talents to something entirely different for me to read.
I’ve reviewed all but the first published of Katherine Howell’s previous novels
- #2 The Darkest Hour
- #3 Cold Justice
- #4 Violent Exposure
- #5 Silent Fear
- #6 Web of Deceit
- #7 Deserving Death
Publisher: Bolinda Audio 
Length: 11 hours, 58 minutes
Format: audio book (mp3)
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