Publication: 25 January 2018 from Simon & Schuster
The sergeant took some from each box and spread them around the floor so they could all see. Dozens upon dozens of them. DI Rachel Narey’s guess was that there were a few hundred in all.
Many of them were in crowd scenes, some just sitting on a park bench or walking a dog or waiting for a bus or working in shops. They seemed to have no idea they’d been photographed.
A dawn raid on the home of a suspected rapist leads to a chilling discovery, a disturbing collection hidden under floorboards. Narey is terrified at the potential scale of what they’ve found and of what brutalities it may signal.
When the photographs are ruled inadmissible as evidence and the man walks free from court, Narey knows she’s let down the victim she’d promised to protect and a monster is back on the streets.
Tony Winter’s young family is under threat from internet trolls and he is determined to protect them whatever the cost. He and Narey are in a race against time to find the unknown victims of the photographer’s lens – before he strikes again.
Reading this book was incredibly strange for two reasons. Firstly, it is about a violent, serial rapist and how a police investigation is foiled from the start, leading him to be released without a stain on his character. The book specifically references John Warboys and as I was reading it, the news came through that Warboys release from prison is not to be challenged. So this book is certainly on topic.
Secondly, and Craig Robertson’s locations are spot on throughout the book, it just so happens that he has put the serial killer’s place of business right in the building where I live. Let me tell you, that creeped me out not a little. I have taken to checking my doors are locked more than once a day now.
Despite that, this is a terrific read. The Narey and Winters combination works incredibly well and though they are in different jobs with different employers, the narrative is never less than utterly plausible and entirely convincing.
Craig Robertson has done an excellent job of ensuring that, despite the awful subject matter, the women in his book are all seen as individuals rather than victims and he describes the court, counselling and police procedures extremely well.
From the outset, we know who our rapist is. He’s a man with a profile in the business community, respected for his business achievements and not short of a few shillings. He is therefore able to hire the best defence that money can buy and to proclaim his outrage at the injustice of the police approach at every turn.
Thwarted by the legal system and burdened with guilt at letting the survivor of the rape down as a result, Narey is determined that this is one perpetrator who will not get away with his crimes, whatever it takes to prove her case.
In turn, this makes her the focus of some extremely vicious and hate filled online trolling which escalates into more than words on occasion. And when she is photographed with her baby and those photos are put online with the threats, Winters knows he has to protect his family.
The pair follow parallel lines as each takes their own path to find a way into the perpetrator’s life and to bring him to justice.
Though the violence is clear from the outset, the book handles this with sensitivity and care and there is nothing gratuitous. Rather the survivors are carefully portrayed as reacting in different ways and each has their own way of handling it and their own story to tell. It is Narey and Winters persistence and their cool heads that lead to these stories being told.
The Photographer is a gripping, compelling read with taut prose, a strong and well told storyline and characters you can believe in.
Very highly recommended.
About Craig Robertson
A former journalist, Craig Robertson had a 20-year career with a Scottish Sunday newspaper before becoming a full-time author. He interviewed three Prime Ministers, reported on major stories including 9/11, Dunblane, the Omagh bombing and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. He was pilloried on breakfast television, beat Oprah Winfrey to a major scoop, spent time on Death Row in the USA and dispensed polio drops in the backstreets of India.
His gritty crime novels are set on the mean streets of contemporary Glasgow. His first novel, Random, was shortlisted for the 2010 CWA New Blood Dagger, longlisted for the 2011 Crime Novel of the Year and was a Sunday Times bestseller. He is also the author of a series of novels featuring crime scene photographer Tony Winter and Detective Sergeant Rachel Narey; Snapshot, Cold Grave and Witness the Dead.
Craig also has a weakness/fascination/obsession with black pudding and has travelled across Europe in search of the perfect pud. This admittedly strange pilgrimage included being a judge at the world black pudding championships in France.