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

#TheSource @SultoonSarah @OrendaBooks #RandomThingsTours @annecater @RandomTTours

  • 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.

My Review

I finished reading the other night at 11 pm. I couldn’t get to sleep. I then woke three times in the night, finally waking at 5.40 am. Parts of this book are devastating, even more so because this really happens.

The story is told in two parts – Carly, aged 13, in 1996 and Marie in 2006. Initially I raced through Marie’s part, getting confused at times between the trafficking story and Operation Andromeda. I just wanted to read about Carly, her alcohol-soaked mother, her brother Jason (I can’t even go there) and her best ‘friend’ Rachel, two years older and a lot wiser. But most of all I feared for little sister Kayleigh and it was her story that kept me awake.

Carly is part of an army family. She shares a father with Jason but he died and the family received a generous handout. Her mum couldn’t cope, blew the money on alcohol, was conned by her so-called lovers and can now barely get up to get dressed. Somehow she manged to get pregnant and have Kayleigh, whose father is unknown. There is no food in the house and poor Kayleigh screams in her cot in a soaking nappy. This was heart-wrenching. It is Carly who has to care for her, while trying to attend school at the same time.

Then things start to change. Rachel invites Carly to ‘special’ army parties and suddenly Jason appears more often with food and clothes for the kids. But there is always a price to pay and that price is Carly. I really hated Jason and while we know Rachel is still a teenager, she is also deeply unlikable.

This is a dark and complex story of abuse, the destruction of childhood innocence and the lengths to which people in power will go to hide the terrible things they have done. It is also about truth and survival, regardless of the cost. The author does not shy away from the issues and this is brilliantly written and researched – be warned though, it is not an easy read – but it’s a story that needs to be told.

Many thanks to @annecater for inviting me to be part of #RandomThingsTours.

About the Author

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…

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