Legal Thriller of the Year – Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan


Sophie’s husband James is a loving father, a handsome man, a charismatic and successful public figure. And yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to rip them apart.

Kate is the lawyer hired to prosecute the case: an experienced professional who knows that the law is all about winning the argument. And yet Kate seeks the truth at all times. She is certain James is guilty and is determined he will pay for his crimes.

Who is right about James? Sophie or Kate? And is either of them informed by anything more than instinct and personal experience? Despite her privileged upbringing, Sophie is well aware that her beautiful life is not inviolable. She has known it since she and James were first lovers, at Oxford, and she witnessed how easily pleasure could tip into tragedy.

Most people would prefer not to try to understand what passes between a man and a woman when they are alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in an elevator… Or alone in the moonlit courtyard of an Oxford college, where a girl once stood before a boy, heart pounding with excitement, then fear. Sophie never understood why her tutorial partner Holly left Oxford so abruptly. What would she think, if she knew the truth?


Having grown up reading John Grisham’s exceptionally detailed legal thrillers, I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Yes, Anatomy of a Scandal is a legal thriller – a minutely detailed one at that – but that is not what sets it apart. Sara Vaughn has mastered the craft of not only story-telling but also of bringing characters to life with the magic of words.

Kate, a prosecutor in London, takes only the cases that have an element of sexual crime. Her next case brings her face-to-face with a highly successful and well-liked politician (they do exist, apparently), James Whitehouse. James


Whitehouse, accused of raping his ex-girlfriend and colleague, is an old friend of the Prime Minister. Kate must gather all her courage and pull every trick under her sleeve to prosecute against Whitehouse and win this case for her client. Losing this case is not an option.

Told from three different point of views, the story offers different perspectives that add to the element of interest and showcases Vaughan’s ruthlessly keen eye for detail. At timesI wondered if Sarah, like my legal thrillers hero John Grisham, is a lawyer by profession. She is not. I can’t imagine the amount of research that must have gone into writing this book, and hats off to the author for she nailed it.

The sheer brilliance with which Sara Vaughn has weaved this story of rape and power-play is not only thought-provoking but also extremely relevant in the present world.

About the author


Sarah Vaughan read English at Oxford and went on to be a journalist. After training with the Press Association, she worked for The Guardian for 11 years as a news reporter, health correspondent and political correspondent before leaving to freelance. She started writing fiction the week she turned forty. Anatomy of a Scandal is her third novel and will be published in January 2018 by S&S in the UK, US and Canada, plus other commonwealth countries. It will also be translated into 16 languages. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and two young children and is currently writing her fourth novel.

Final Thoughts

This book is definitely a page turner, very well researched and intelligently written.
The story is pacy, addictive and unputdownable (is that a word?). I would thoroughly recommend this book.

What do you think

Have you read Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan? What did you think of it? Do let me know about your favorite legal thrillers in the comments below.


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