Truth Be Told by Kia Abdullah

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Truth Be Told by Kia Abdullah

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Category: Crime
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A stunning courtroom drama which will force your mind into dusty corners and make you think. An excellent read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384/10h14m Date: September 2020
Publisher: HQ
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0008314729

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The Hadids are an effortful family. Flowers are sent for the slightest problem or achievement: letters are sent to thank and this prompts a phone call in return. There are two sons of the family, seventeen-year-old Kamran and sixteen-year-old Adam. Their mother, Sofia, regrets that she didn't name them the other way round: 'Adam and Kamran' trips off the tongue so much more easily than 'Kamran and Adam'. Sofia worries about that sort of thing. Both boys go to the prestigious Hampton school, where they board, despite the school being less than ten miles from their Belsize Park home. Kamran has a place at Oxford next year and all seemed to be going well until the night when he was raped.

Kamran shouldn't have been at the party: he was going to his friend's home in the Cotswolds but the party there was cancelled. The Hadid's weren't a raucous Asian family - a friend described them as more 'clenched' and whilst Kamran warned his younger brother not to drink too much at the school party he disregarded his own advice and staggered back to bed in West Lawn in the early hours of the morning. He was dimly aware of something happening a little later but woke the following morning to find Finn Anderson in bed with him. Kamran finally contacted a rape support adviser and then the Metropolitan Police.

The school would, of course, have preferred that they'd been able to deal with this 'internally'. Kamran interpreted this as meaning that there would have been an enquiry and it would have been found that Finn had no case to answer with the whole episode being put down to youthful, drunken high jinx. That wasn't what Kamran wanted and it isn't what Zara Kaleel, his counsellor, wanted either. It's going to end up in court.

There's no requirement for vengeance from Kamran - he simply wants justice to be done. He's in a difficult situation at home. His father can't deal with it and wishes that it had been handled by the school. It's not that he's not supporting Kamran - he loves him dearly - but he just wishes that everything would go away. And Sofia Hadid just doesn't do empathy. Finn Anderson is no better off: his parents are also wealthy but they're in Switzerland at the moment. They do assure him that they would come back if it was necessary.

Zara Kaleel wishes that Muslims came with a barometer so that you could gauge just how liberal they are. She's a fugitive from an arranged marriage - which led to her father issuing a death threat. Even her best friend, Safran, is strangely illiberal on certain subjects. Religion lends a murkiness to the case, but Zara's problem is simply that within her community she's a girl - and thus a half-formed thing.

In essence, though, the nub of the case is simple, if not straightforward. It revolves around consent. Kamran did not say 'no' to Finn, but neither did he say 'yes'. Does the failure to give a positive indication of willingness have the same effect as a definite negative statement? The subject is handled with sensitivity but very thoroughly. It will make you think.

I guessed one of the twists at the end of the book, but I definitely missed the full corkscrew, despite all the clues being there. A superb read. I'd like to thank the publishers for letting Bookbag have a review copy.

For another courtroom drama, we can recommend House of Correction by Nicci French. There are similar themes in Hell to Pay by Jenny Thomson but Truth be Told is the by-far-the-better book. You might also enjoy Keep Him Close by Emily Koch.

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