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Without Consent (1996)

by Frances Fyfield

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Helen West novels (6)

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1232196,058 (3.23)None
A horrific rape case turns into a dilemma for prosecutor Helen West and Superintendent Bailey when the accused is a police officer whom they both know.

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I had the feeling that this one worked better as an academic discussion of the weaknesses of the (English) law dealing with rape than as a crime story. The plot was rather clumsily contrived to create the legal paradox; there wasn't much mystery involved; and the use of parallel story lines which switch unannounced from one point-of-view character to another came over as annoying rather than subtle. Still, Fyfield does well, as always, in contrasting the complexity of real human situations with the mechanical rigidity of even the most sophisticated and humane legal system. ( )
  thorold | Aug 8, 2010 |
Another one from my thriftstore pile of junk reads. This was a disturbing, unpleasant plot. Crown Prosecuter, Helen West deals with rape accusations. She has to be pragmatic about results and knows that many of the rapes she declines to prosecute did happen, but the evidence will not support a conviction.

Her fiancé is a police detective who investigates rape charges. His partner, John Ryan is accused of a rape. The book swirls around the mystery of the accusation and the policeman's behavior-- definitely not what one would expect of an innocent man-- turns opinion against him.

The reader is put inside the rapist's head by quotes of legal statutes determining whether or not a victim may be said to have given "consent" and the rapist's thoughts that twist the definitions to assure himself they did indeed consent to his ministrations.

The descriptions of his assaults are unpleasant, partly because they are assaults and partly because I couldn't quite believe them. He brings his victims to orgasm with his fingers, mouth or foreign object and that is the crux of the problem for the prosecution. Even when the victim reports the rape, she either recants, or is found to be unreliable because she does not sustain a reliable account due to the shame of having experienced "pleasure" at the hands of the assaulter.

That's where I lost contact with the story. I've never been in that situation, so I can't say for sure it wouldn't happen, but for me, I can be deflected from gratification if I'm out of milk, or if the fuschia is not doing well, let alone if I were in a state of terror at unwelcome hands. The author repeatedly makes the point that the victims are unhappy, vulnerable women, so maybe that's where I have to separate my own experience from the book characters.

There are several storylines: the rapist, the victims, the accused policeman, the prosecuter, the fiancé, a young prosecuting colleague, maybe a few others. The narrative leaps from storyline to storyline and several times I found myself more than lost and wondering if I'd skipped a page.

As these stories go, it kept me turning the pages which is all I expect. Usually with these books, I read them, then put them in a pile to donate to the library. Since joining LT, I find myself alphabetizing and including all the books in my collection.

Now, I realize they are not volumes I need or want to keep, so the last two and the ones to come will go toward helping the library raise funds with it's book sale. ( )
  nowthatsoriginal | Sep 9, 2009 |
Showing 2 of 2
Helen and her erstwhile lover, Bailey, a senior police officer, work together on a case involving Bailey's protege, Detective Sergeant Ryan of the Rape Unit, who has been accused of rape himself. Several sub-plots evolve, including the accuser of Ryan and her "real" story. Through these sub-plots, more and more is revealed of the real rapist/killer and his motives.

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Frances Fyfieldprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hollanda, Roberto deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
PociaoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Goldmann (44150)
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A horrific rape case turns into a dilemma for prosecutor Helen West and Superintendent Bailey when the accused is a police officer whom they both know.

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