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Friday 26 February 2021

‘Allegation’ by R G Adams

Published by Riverrun,
18 February 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-52940-466-1 (HB)

The vast majority of crime fiction involves a murder or two and a modicum of violence; but real-life crime is hugely varied, and often no less catastrophic to the victims. Historical sexual abuse has been much in the news in recent years, and its effects and aftermath can shatter families and lives as powerfully as any suspicious death.

Proof and punishment are up to the police and the courts – but what of those left behind in its traumatic wake? The children and spouses, the victims themselves? Who cares for them, and helps them salvage something from the wreckage? Social workers, that’s who – an often disrespected and maligned profession, but one that’s full of people with the best of intentions. Theirs is a world that R G Adams knows well, and in this novel, she puts that knowledge to excellent use. 

Allegation is not so much a whodunit? as a how-can-they-prove-he-dunit? Kit Goddard is a member of the First Response team in her local social work department; part of her job is to ensure the children are safe when an allegation is made against an adult family member. But it’s not often the allegation is against a pillar of society, a man from a wealthy and influential background, who has the power to end her career if she puts a foot wrong.

But Kit is nothing if not determined, especially when she finds that one of the children is severely disabled and unable to communicate in any meaningful way. Her own background is troubled, and she has a lot of experience of social workers from the other side; she and her siblings spent their childhood in and out of care, and the backwash informs everything she does. The extra insight it gives her is a mixed blessing, but it hardens her resolve.

The characters which people this richly drawn tale are its great strength: Vernon, Kit’s immediate boss, who skates close to the line at times but is as dedicated as she is; Cole the clueless manager, who reveals hidden depths when they’re needed most; Kit’s colleagues: Maisie, slightly flaky but well-meaning, and Ricky, diffident and inexperienced but wiser than he realizes. Then there’s the family Kit has to work with: Matt, the accused father, who is far too charming; combative Annie, the mother; Chloe, the chatty, outgoing six-year-old, and wheelchair-bound Lucy. Kit’s damaged twin brother Tyler has his own issues which have to be dealt with. Other people too, are equally well drawn, and the small Welsh coastal town which I now feel I could find my way around with no difficulty.

Allegation is R G Adams’s debut, but you’d never know it. It’s as accomplished and engrossing a novel as many I’ve read from authors with a whole string of successes behind them. I look forward to meeting Kit Goddard again, and watching both her and her creator’s careers develop into something special.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

R. G. Adams is a former social worker with thirty years of experience across all areas of social services. She lives in Wales with her family, and Allegation is her first novel.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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