A hugely anticipated debut thriller from former CNN international news executive Sarah Sultoon. Inspired by Sarah’s own time in the newsroom, The Source follows a young TV journalist who is forced to revisit her past when she’s thrust into a sex-trafficking investigation in her hometown. TV rights have already been sold to Lime Pictures, with Jo Spain writing the screenplay
1996. Essex. Thirteen-year-old schoolgirl Carly lives in a disenfranchised town dominated by a military base, struggling to care for her baby sister while her mum sleeps off another binge. When her squaddie brother brings food and treats, and offers an exclusive invitation to army parties, things start to look a little less bleak…
2006. London. Junior TV newsroom journalist Marie has spent six months exposing a gang of sex traffickers, but everything is derailed when New Scotland Yard announces the re-opening of Operation Andromeda, the notorious investigation into allegations of sex abuse at an army base a decade earlier.
As the lives of these two characters intertwine around a single, defining event, a series of utterly chilling experiences is revealed, sparking a nail-biting race to find the truth… and justice.
A tense, startling and unforgettable thriller, The Source is a story about survival, about hopes and dreams, about power, abuse and resilience.
With all the emphasis on Line of Duty and investigating corruption at the moment, it was fantastic to be able to immerse myself in a high quality piece of crime fiction that felt every bit as tense, intelligent and compelling as any crime series I’ve ever watched. I’m so excited to hear that the television rights have already been bought and cannot WAIT to see it on the screen. I love books that deal with gritty subject matter and Karen definitely has a nose for a good story so I was really excited to read Sarah Sultoon’s novel as soon as I could. The Easter Holidays arrived and I was delighted to have some time to dedicate to this hugely anticipated crime thriller and can assure you that I was certainly not disappointed – this book brings the idea of an unputdownable read to a new level and I enjoyed every single moment of this tautly plotted and gripping read.
I absolutely love books that are set in two distinct timelines and really enjpyed travelling back to the 90s with Carly then seeing things from Marie’s perspective a decade later. This book starts with a punch right between the eyes and the pace never really lets up until you’ve turned the final page The fact that these two characters have such different backgrounds and experiences makes for a fantastic reading experience as you see the differences in the way that they perceive and reflect on events and the way that their individual sories affect us. You will feel protective of Carly who alongside her younger sister Kayleigh is growing up in the most challenging circumstances – the path she is being led down becomes clearer and clearer as the novel progresses and the difficult reality of grooming and how insidiously it works is brilliantly captured and brings its true horror to life extremely effectively as we see and undertand the situation very differently from this vulnerable young girl – however streetwise and mature she feels that she us.
Marie is a completely different kettle of fish – although on the surface she might appear to be the stronger character as a successful TV producer and investigative journalist in actual fact she comes across as far less confident and capable than Carly in many ways. This juxtaposition was one of the things that I enjoyed most about this read and is actually one of the key things I enjoy about Orenda books – that their characters are never stereotypically what you might expect and you can’t always pigeonhole them and have a clear understanding of how they’ll behave or how their narrative will unfold. These two characters worlds collide when Marie gets caught up in Operation Andromeda and once stones start being overturned we are caught up in a race against time. We are thrust into a dark world of depravity, corruption and cruelty that will have you both angry and horrified alternately as you experience the depths which human beings will stoop to and you won’t be able to look away. This is a dark read without a doubt, but it never feels exploitative or gratuitous as Sultoon never loses sight of Carly’s humanity and the realisation that there are many hundreds of girls and women caught up in situations like this and this hard hitting novel never lets you forget this
Although I was totally absorbed in the characterisation of The Source it is undoubtedly the intelligence and deftness of its plotting that raisees it head and shoulders above its competition. Orenda reads are my favourites for a reason and it’s incredibly difficult to imagine that this is a debut read The story of Marie and her immersion in the twists and turns of this case is so perfectly realised that it was hard at times to remember that these are fictional characters rather than real people whose lives are unfolding on the page and it made me wish that time would pass more quickly so that I can see these gripping events unfold on the screen and so that more people can experience the quality of Sultoon’s writing and characterisation.
Carly is one of those characters that feel absolutely real from the very first page. She likes to imagine that she is much more grown up and tough than she actually is and because we can see the writing on the wall far before she does, it makes for incredibly poignant reading at times. This story really came alive for me and it was one of those novels that you blink and look up from and discover that you’ve just spent the last three hours immersed in it, it’s so captivating and immersive a story. I will admit to have to step away for a breather at times as it got so intense and once you get caught up in these events, you will definitely see what I mean.
The characters in The Source are never merely presented as devices to drive the plot along – although it does unfold at an absolutely cracking pace I think that it’s a testament to the strength of Sultoon’s writing that we are so completely immersed in this journey into this heart of darkness that we are happy to be led up several blind alleys through the skilful plotting and are holding our collective breath by the end as there is so much tension being so expertly managed. The juxtaposition between the very ordinariness of the setting with the depravity of these events is convincingly depicted and the tension never lets up for one second in what can be at times a relentless and dark read. I particularly enjoyed the fact that many of the threats are never explicitly spelled out for us and the horror that is conjured as a consequence of this is far more horrifying than any gratuitous diaplays of brutality could ever be…
You will definitely find it hard to put this book down as you’ll be so wrapped up in this gripping and brilliantly plotted read – you’ll need to keep reading and find out how it all ends. Despite her reserved nature, Marie is not a character to give up easily, no matter the circumstances, so it’s safe to say that there were parts of this novel that I read when I was literally holding my breath, not sure what was going to happen next. Needless to say, I was not disappointed and I’m really jealous of anyone who’s yet to start reading this book as it really stands out and once you’ve locked yourself in, you are in for a white knuckle reading ride!
I recommend this wonderfully tense and hard-hitting novel to people who really like to get their teeth into a story that is as far from predictable and formulaic as it is possible to be. In the present reading climate, many books can seem almost interchangeable and this book certainly stood out a mile. I loved the intelligent characterisation as much as I enjoyed the fast-moving and gripping plot and I will definitely be recommending it to friends of mine who enjoy a read that will be like nothing else they’ve read this year and I know that it’s going to be much talked about as it feels like one of those books that becomes a word of mouth hit – it really is that good!
Buy yourself a copy and experience this unforgettable read before it appears on screen. It’s definitely one of my favourite reads of 2021 so far and I’m going to be passsing it on to my bookish crowd as a ‘must read’ for all crime thriller fans this year! Thank you so much to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me onto the tour and thanks again to Karen for always making my TBR a thing of beauty and ensuring that I’m never stuck for a supply of brilliant and talented debut writers, as well as all my established Orenda favourites.
‘Tautly written and compelling, not afraid to shine a spotlight on the darker forces at work in society’ Rupert Wallis
‘So authentic and exhilarating … breathtaking pace and relentless ingenuity’ Nick Paton Walsh, CNN
‘A powerful, intense whammy of a debut that is both uncomfortable and exhilarating to read … Thought-provoking, tense, and expressive, The Source is an utterly compelling debut’ LoveReading
‘A gripping, dark thriller’ Geoff Hill, ITV
‘A cleverly constructed story that offers an authentic view behind the scenes in a British newsroom … an original and wholly engaging debut. Definitely a name to watch’ Crime Fiction Lover
‘My heart was racing … fiction to thrill even the most hard-core adrenaline junkies’ Diana Magnay, Sky News
‘Unflinching and sharply observed. A hard-hitting, deftly woven debut’ Ruth Field
‘With this gripping, fast-paced debut thriller, it’s easy to see what made Sultoon such a great journalist. She has a nose for a great story, an eye for the details that make it come to life, and real compassion for her protagonist’ Clarissa Ward, CNN
‘A hard-hitting, myth-busting rollercoaster of a debut’ Eve Smith
‘A dazzling debut’ The Reading Closet
‘I could picture and feel each scene, all the fear, tension and hope’ Katie Allen
‘Harrowing, powerful, perfectly executed’ Literary Elf
‘Gripping, emotional, eye-opening and so brilliantly written … a stunning debut by a very talented author’ Anne Cater
‘Thought provoking, emotional and sometimes brutal … both thrilling and heart-wrenching’ Live & Deadly
Writer On The Shelf
Sarah Sultoon is a journalist and writer whose work as an international news executive at CNN has taken her all over the world, from the seats of power in both Westminster and Washington to the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan. She has extensive experience in conflict zones, winning three Peabody awards for her work on the war in Syria, an Emmy for her contribution to the coverage of Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, and a number of Royal Television Society gongs.
As passionate about fiction as nonfiction, she recently completed a Masters of Studies in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge, adding to an undergraduate language degree in French and Spanish, and Masters of Philosophy in History, Film and Television. When not reading or writing she can usually be found somewhere outside, either running, swimming or throwing a ball for her three children and dog while she imagines what might happen if…