Sandbeach, South Wales. Two women have come forward to make historical sexual allegations against a pillar of the local community, Matthew Cooper. And child-safeguarding protocol demands that Social Services remove the accused from his home and his family, while a formal assessment is carried out.
The Cooper case lands on the desk of inexperienced Social Worker, Kit Goddard. Although intrepid and intuitive, she is ill prepared for such a high-profile case.
Kit finds herself navigating a local minefield of connections and class, reputations and rumour. Unsure whether her interference is a heroic intervention or a hurtful intrusion, she knows one thing: it will have an impact. The question is whether this impact will be to expose an iniquitous lie, or destroy an innocent life…
Thanks to Katya Ellis for reaching out and inviting me to be involved with this social media blast for the publication of Allegation. What a read! I picked this book up and stopped reading just to sleep, I kid you not I devoured this book!
Kit is a social worker, young and still learning. She grew up in the area and has a significant personal history of being involved with Children’s Services, her and her siblings spent time in care and the ramifications of her upbringing remain. With an older, maverick boss and a stretched team, Kit is forced to learn on the job as she begins investigating the allegation. The family in question are affluent and networked and the involvement of Kit quickly creates conflict, within her and her organisation.
This was a truly gripping read and I am thrilled to know this is the first in a series. The book highlights the impossible decision social workers have to make when involved with families, information is limited, people are guarded, if not overtly hostile and the risks are high.
The book has a central theme of sexual abuse and a broader theme of child abuse, parental alcoholism and the care system. It is not always comfortable reading but it is a true portrayal of what can happen (vague here as I don’t want to give away any spoilers). Despite the subject matter it was an entertaining read, and reminded me of crime fiction in terms of its fast pace, investigative nature and pursuit of clues to a conclusion.
The politics of the Children’s Services Team was interesting and detailed the competing pressures from above. Some interesting and well developed characters here, which was impressive given the strong plot, this book packed a lot in, in just over 300 pages. Interesting was the class dynamic, with Kit reflecting on the challenges of working with an affluent and powerful family who weren’t the stereotypical families she worked with. A disabled child who didn’t communicate verbally presented further challenges and the book usefully highlighted the vulnerabilities here.
Overall a strong and compelling read highlighting some very relevant issues through the media of fiction. Definitely recommended and though not always a comfortable read, interesting and insightful and I am looking forward to delving further into the world of Kit and Children’s Services.
About the Author
R.G. Adams is a former social worker with thiry years of experience across all areas of social services. She lives in Wales with her family and Allegation is her first novel.