Craig Robertson risks wading into rough waters with The Photographer, but the results are more than worth it. With a tale as timely as it is tense, Robertson advances his series in unexpected ways, while also trying to educate readers and validate victims.
The Photographer is the latest book in the DI Rachel Narey and journalist Tony Winter series. These two often find themselves working different angles on the same case, but this book takes that concept to a new level. The case at the center of the book gains relevancy because of the #metoo movement, but if these social media posts have taught us anything, it is that this situation has been a cultural problem for way too long and it is a relief to see them addressed so directly in our crime fiction.
When Rachel Narey interviews rape victim Leah Watt, she becomes convinced that she will be able to put the bastard responsible behind bars quickly. A raid on his house uncovers a massive stash of photographs of unsuspecting women. Rachel is convinced these are other victims or future prey for this sick mind, but when a courtroom technicality demands that the photographs be inadmissible, the case crumbles and this high-powered man walks free.
Later the photographs are leaked to Tony Winter and he begins to investigate the case from a journalistic perspective. Unfortunately, this puts him right in the crosshairs of social media trolls who hide behind anonymity to foster their keyboard courage.
As with all of Craig Robertson’s books, The Photographer depicts these various teams at work, unified by their shared goal of righting injustice. In the case of The Photographer, the plot is focused more on how they will catch this serial rapist, rather than uncovering a surprise culprit or unusual motive. In many ways, this increases the suspense rather than diminishing it.
The recounting of the violation these women withstood is not easy to read about and it is to Robertson’s credit that he seems to have invested the necessary time into making sure these accounts read as authentic as possible. His male characters – especially Tony Winter – are forced to deal with their own faults as they are confronted with the realization that they can never really understand what these women have endured. At the same time, readers become invested in the outcome of this case, experiencing each high and low moment as the authorities navigate the legal system, public opinion, and their own personal demons in an attempt to attain justice for victims who are so often neglected.
The Photographer is very much a book of the moment and addresses our cultural attitudes directly – never shying away from having those difficult discussions that we as a society must have in order to heal.