Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

anatomyofascandalcoverTitle: Anatomy of a Scandal
Series
: No
Author(s): Sarah Vaughan
Publisher: Atria / Emily Bestler Books
Format: ARC
Original Release Date: January 23rd 2018
Pages: 400
Genre(s): Legal Thriller, Mystery Thriller
ISBN13: 9781501172168


Sarah Vaughan takes on a timely and paramount matter in Anatomy of a Scandal as she takes out her scalpel in an attempt to meticulously examine themes of sexual assault, consent and power. After having dipped her toes in chick lit (The Art of Baking Blind) and historical fiction (The Farm at the Edge of the World), this courtroom thriller will give fans of mystery thrillers something to devour in the dark corners of their bed.

A minister in the House of Commons, James Whitehouse, is a loving husband to Sophie and a father of two children. It is on a dark and cloudy day that he is accused of a spineless crime that will undoubtedly stay attached onto his reputation as an elite of society for the rest of his life. A stigma like this could however not be left unchallenged as his case is brought into court to shut down the alleged accusations of rape. However, Kate Woodcroft, a criminal barrister, is assigned as the prosecutor in order to take on the near-impossible task of making it all stick and have James Whitehouse go down as a rapist. Is an innocent man going to down for a crime he never committed? Is rapist going to be released for a crime he did commit?

Anatomy of a Scandal is a timely exploration of the abuse on women that men in power have relentlessly inflicted upon thanks to their high status in society. This novel couldn’t have been released at a more relevant period as we are bombarded with celebrities and elites who are having their skeletons dragged out of their closets thanks to viral online movements that drenched #MeToo with a whole new political and social definition. Throughout this story, the complexity of cases regarding sexual abuse is highlighted in neon colours as Sarah Vaughan dots every i’s and crosses every t’s on the matter at hand.

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A lot of this story helps understand how these cases are often riddled with he-said-she-said and that swaying a jury to one side or the other isn’t a question of evidence anymore. Everything lies in political correctness and in who, between the accused and the victim, can show the most conviction in their facts or lies. I have to give all my respect to Sarah Vaughan in successfully laying out every possible angle to these types of case. She not only nails the point of view of the victim and the accused, but she also brilliantly covers the angle of the wife of the accused, the prosecutor and the defendant.

It is however worth mentioning that I had issues with the pacing as the story kicks off at an atrociously slow pace where I had a slippery grip on the mystery. It also didn’t help that there was an extra point of view integrated within the narrative that seemed to come out of the blue for which I quickly knew what its purpose was. It’s safe to say that the thrill was almost non-existent until the story stepped foot into the court. While having Kate’s thought process being told rather than shown was truly annoying because of her sharp and impenetrable confidence in her self (to the extent of sometimes seeming pretentious), it did help however help in supporting the implication of the title of the book. I couldn’t connect with any characters at all, but I found interest in the way the themes were handled by the author.

Anatomy of a Scandal also explores the very idea of how incorrectly men interpret so-called signals; what we so often refer to mixed messages. The story doesn’t shy in analyzing every facet of rape and to condemn the idea that it is possible for men to justify rape by assuming that they know what a women wanted or not before and during an act. The author’s understanding of how preposterous it is for women to blame themselves when they go through these horrific events is also brilliantly conveyed. Besides the story’s slow-pace and its character-driven storyline, this is a fantastic case that might trigger some, but might also enlighten others on the much needed progress that the world needs on the themes delved into by Sarah Vaughan in Anatomy of a Scandal.

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Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for sending me a copy for review!

MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★☆

Have you read it yet? Do you plan to?

What do you think about Anatomy of a Scandal?

Share your thoughts with me!

Till next time,

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59 comments

  • That was exactly what ran through my mind when I read your review…wow this book is totally relevant at this time. It also sounds like a novel that has the name movie written all over it as well. Would not surprise me if this will be made into a film at some point. And I don’t mind slow paced novels, as long as it pays off. Which it seems to do in quite a good way. That and I love courtroom thrillers! Great revie again, really enjoyed it 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    • Tell me about it. I can also totally see this being turned into a movie too. I mean.. there are shows out there who also show a glimpse of this, but one that focuses entirely on a sexual assault case would be totally possible. Ah, exactly. I couldn’t tell if it would pay off honestly. There was nothing I could really connect to since they were all people with high status, and a lot of the characters are women too. I’m glad that it turned out that the author planned on showing us all these different point of views and their mindset around the crime. Thank you so much for reading, Michel! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • I have seen this book on other book blogs and people seem to really like it. It’s amazing that the author deals with rape in a adequate manner and even explains how men misinterpret signals. As for the slow pacing… I mean it’s a downfall but I see that other than that you’ve enjoyed the book very much. Excellent review!

    Liked by 2 people

    • She really does a wonderful job in exploring the point of view of different characters who are affected by the incident. There’s really no angle that isn’t explored. Yep… I thought I’d end up struggling throughout the whole story because of the pacing and my inability to connect with any character, but I’m glad that there were other departments where I could find interest in reading. Thanks a lot man! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  • Brilliant review! This novel is getting so much praise and it piqued my interest but something was still holding me off and I don’t know what, I think the political position. I thought the position of power made it too easy but the way you explain it there’s a lot more going for this novel. I am curious to see how men explain the mixed signals and misinterpret them.. I bet I’ll get on my high horse when I read about that and for that alone I’d like to read it 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much Inge! The politics could indeed be a turn off for me, but I also think that for sexual assault cases it is an easy premise to offer us a look at what a position of power gives some people. Oh yes, you’ll see how twisted it can be and how some men act on assumptions in order to do and get what they want. There’s a lot that can trigger readers in this, but I find that the author did a wonderful job in exploring every possible angle. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I was pretty scared that I was going to end up hating on this book, but I’m glad Sarah Vaughan planned on showing us her true intentions with this story a bit later in the book. 😀 Hope you enjoy it a lot when you get around to it, Meggy! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! There are some really wonderful thrillers out there that will do exactly that for you. I liked this one in particular for its exploration of rape cases. Hopefully you’ll get your hands on all the good ones this year, Charlotte! 😀

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  • Fantastic review! I Thought this was just another run of the mill thriller that I could easily ignore, but you’ve convinced me otherwise. I may have to pick this one up sooner rather than later.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Nadine. I thought it would turn out to be exactly that too, but I’m glad to have found out (even if it was around the 50% mark) that it had something unique about it. Might indeed be worth checking out. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • That’s too bad that the pace is slow.. but I do like the sound of men knowing “what women wants”. I’m glad you enjoyed the read despite few setbacks. Great review!

    Liked by 2 people

    • It could’ve been just me too though haha I’d attribute the slow pacing to my inability to connect with the characters, but then the story dives right into the subject of rape and everything became so much more interesting for me. Thank you so much for reading Jasmine! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • This definitely sounds like it’s on the serious side. I’m not sure whether or not I’m in the mood for a story about a convicted rapist, but it sure is timely, and your review really summed everything up nicely!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think its timely nature is what makes it all even more serious. It’s like how at a certain point we started giving more attention to the victims rather than the killers. This one gives us the whole psychology behind all the affected parties, and that was quite intriguing, especially well-done. Thank you so much for reading Tammy! 😀

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  • Fantastic Review, Lashaan and great timing indeed!😍 This sounds like a fantastic read but I think Kim or another book friend said this one would probably trigger me too much so I am keeping my distance for now but this sounds great! I definitely will have to bring this one up to my library association because of your amazing review!👏💜

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much Dani! Yep. If you know to be easily triggered by certain themes I’ve mentioned, then it might be best to look elsewhere for your next bookish fun. I’m glad to hear you want to still look into though and hope that it won’t be too much emotionally and that you’ll find it good. Thank you again, Dani!! 😀

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  • We will probably see a lot of new books this year with a theme relating to the power struggle or structure between the two sexes. Stephen and Owen King’s new book, Sleeping Beauties, really work it in their new book.

    Liked by 2 people

    • True. With the political climate out there, especially in the States, it won’t be a surprise to have more and more books focus on that issue indeed. How was Sleeping Beauties? Did you survive its 100000 pages? 😮 😮

      Liked by 1 person

  • What a well-written and powerful review, Lashaan! What did you think of how these ideas are explored, based on your own worldly experiences? I always wonder when topics divided by the sexes are explored… particularly as you are a man, and the author is a woman. Did anything feel overdone? Could you connect to the messages Vaughan was presenting?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Awn, thank you so much Jackie! I appreciate the kind words. ❤ Lets say that having completed my bachelor in criminology, having a class on sexual delinquents and having seen the worse of the worse on the subject has definitely put me a different position compared to other readers. I don't think anything related to the psychology of men and women has been overdone in this. The author does a pretty solid job in giving us some really authentic characters and their reactions regarding their experiences. The premise does put them in a unique position making some characters a bit harder to understand (like the wife of the accused rapist) but in terms of exploring all the different points of view, this was great. It will make you reflect on how some people react and what they tell themselves over time. As I have mentioned somewhere in the review, I did however find the prosecutor hard to enjoy reading about cause of her "overconfidence" at first but then again, maybe it's also cause I'm a guy and if it was a guy who had that kind of overconfidence I would've thought he was bad-ass or something. There are readers who thought she was awesome for this too, so it's all very subjective! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ahhh. I guess you do have a very different view of the context of this book than I do. But it also means I can trust the perspectives you have. Thank you for sharing!

        I saw that you mentioned the prosecutor was difficult to enjoy; and you pegged my follow up question perfectly! I appreciate how self-aware you are. I often find women described as over-confident inspiring. It’s all about your point of view, right?

        Liked by 1 person

        • 100%! We can’t all have similar reviews and thoughts after all right? Complete conformism is just boring. 😀

          I have wondered often why almost all psychological thrillers nowadays have a female protagonist… I’m not even sure anymore if that’s one of the criteria for a psychological thriller or if it has something to do with women and emotions and how much easier it might be use them in those kinds of stories. o.O

          Liked by 1 person

          • You are SO RIGHT when it comes to conformity of reviews. Besides, then what’s the point of all this reading and reviewing? The controversy is sometimes my favorite part.

            I don’t get that either. Perhaps all the psychological thrillers also feature female protagonists because men don’t want to come across as emotionally volitile? Or if women read more psychological thrillers than men? I wouldn’t be surprised if publishers had some silly ideas (or ACTUAL DATA) behind that.

            Liked by 1 person

              • Oh, that’s interesting! I’ve noticed a lot of thriller authors only just their first name initials with their surname (B.A. Paris, S.J. Watson, A.S.A. Harrison, J.P. Delaney), so I’ve never considered that these are all women… but you’re right, it’s a struggle to find a psychological thriller published recently written by a man. I guess you’re stuck with The Silence of the Lambs and Shutter Island!

                Liked by 1 person

  • I am so glad you read this! I applaud the author for covering not only a very pressing and relevant topic, but the varying impacts and views points of not only the victim and perpetrator, but the families and those attached to each. It is always so important to remember that many suffer at the hands of such heinous crimes. Fantastic review Lashaan.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much Danielle! I honestly didn’t see it coming at first and was really struggling to find out why this book was such a highly anticipated release, but after I hit that 40%~ ish mark, I quickly knew that the author wanted this to be a slow-burner (at least for me it was) where you were to look at how each relevant character was dealing with the issue. Good stuff. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Sleeping Beauties had the classic Stephen King humor and graphic gore. It had a lot of characters to keep track of. The first pages before the first chapter list the names of characters, along with their age. There were some ho-hum moments and annoying characters, but overall it was entertaining.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ehhh I’ve always found that painful. The abondance of characters. Especially in the fantasy books I go through. I personally have to write them down and link them (making my own geonological tree of sorts) if I ever want to follow the story. At least there’s a nifty list at the beginning. Love the use of “ho-hum”. I got to add that to my vocabulary hahah Might even try and use it in my next review. All credit is ours! 😀 Still glad to hear it was an overall entertaining ride. He has a new book coming out soon (early summer-ish) called The Outsider! 😮

      Liked by 1 person

  • Great review for this book Lashaan. 🙂 Sarah Vaughan sounds like an incredibly talented writer if she’s managed to release a variety of books across different genres and have them be amazing stories as well. From the sounds of it I agree when you said this is an incredibly relevant story for the time we’re in now. It’s a shame about the pacing of Anatomy of a Scandal at the beginning but it sounds like it didn’t spoil your enjoyment of the story overall, and that when the plot did step into the court room things picked up more as well.
    Again great review! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much Beth! Well.. I can’t vouch for the quality of her other books though. I haven’t read anything by her except this one. 😀 Oh yes, if it hadn’t explored all those point of views with those themes in mind, this could’ve easily have been one of the worse books for me hahah I’m glad she delivered those point of views like she did. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  • WOW! Beth gives such great comments that I’m having performance issues going after her… But here it goes nevertheless! Great review… I know it’s so great because you seduce me every time to a book I wouldn’t want to read. My writing partner keeps me abreast of all the scandal about in the world so yeah, talk about timely. I was surprised by the 3 star rating considering you couldn’t back any of the characters. Still it does sound like she gives a comprehensive view of this kind of situation. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Silly Dani! You shouldn’t be comparing though hahah You just say whatever goes through your mind and I’ll always greatly appreciate it. I won’t even mind if there’s nothing you want to say or add or anything too. 😉 Interesting to see your writing partner is also your news filter though. You aren’t personally interested in what goes on every day? 😀 I didn’t give this 3 stars though. I gave it 4 and I am also a bit stunned by the high rating for a book with which no character was easy to relate to. I do however have the tendency to not have “relatability” as a decisive factor to completing a book though. I also try to see what makes a book special and it was indeed in her comprehensive view of sexual assault and its legal complexity. Thanks for reading, Dani! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hhhhhahaha, well I’d never be a journalist because their writing is so heavy. She’s able to wade through all that. I read trashy writing because I can wade through that and she can’t. And she tells me anything I need to know so I’m not out of the loop. She can assimilate heaviness I can’t (at least not at the volume she can) and can feel when story ideas are there. She suggests them to me and I can see where they’d go in our overall story. We have a whole process and everything 😉 oh haha not many realize I just say what I think! I actually don’t do it deliberately but have been told “repeatedly” that I do. Thanks for not holding it against me 😁 I actually don’t struggle to say anything about your reviews. It’s quite nice actually. I’m always fascinated what angle you’ll talk about the book. You’re quite inspiring!

        Liked by 1 person

  • Even though I haven’t read the book- I would like to say you more than likely, 100% nailed this review when it comes to the themes it conveys! I mean, if I was the author of this book, I think your review would not only make my day but my whole week/month, etc… I love how eloquently you address this book and draw the all-important parallels with the current real life! Fantastic job and sounds like a must read of a book!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are way too kind! I’m glad to hear that you believe it would warm the heart of the author. Not every author would take the time to read a review and let us all know what they thought about it after all. 😀 Thank you again for your kind words, Liz!!! ❤

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