The Rumour: Gossip, rumour and human nature make for an engrossing read

The Rumour book review

What is this about?: A rumour that a child killer is hiding out in a small town spreads like wildfire, and … Joanna takes advantage of some inside knowledge in a very relatable way when she adds a little bit of fuel to the fire of the rumour. But then… well, things go wrong. Big time.

What else is this about?: How well do you know the people you see every day, and talk about parenting and your kids and have a good old chat at school? This book plays with perceptions of the people around Joanna to great effect.


When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now there’s no going back . . .

Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea.

Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago – no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman.

So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realizes what it is she’s unleashed?


So The Rumour was not exactly what I expected.

Joanna is a lending manager, working part time in order to be there for her 6-year-old son Alfie. She’s moved to a smaller town from London to be close to her mother and for Alfie’s school – he was bullied at his previous one. They’ve made a life there, a good one. It might not be as exciting as her one in London, but it’s still good for them.

Then Joanna hears a rumour that Sally Mcgowan, a notorious child-killer is under a new identity in their sleepy little town. She mentions it to Alfie’s father, Michael, who is a freelance journalist and still a big part of their lives.

He finds some information on his own, that kind of solidifies the rumour – and Joanna, knowing that the gossipy mums will look at her in a more friendlier way if she tells them this little nugget – tells them what Michael found. It’s her way in to a clique of mums and their kids, and really, she’s trying her best to get Alfie more friends – and what better way than to be friends with mums?

However, Michael doesn’t let up on his investigating and soon enough moves in – they’re still very much in each other’s lives – to be able to investigate the McGowan rumour further and write a book about her side of the story.

You know how rumours escalate, and everyone assumes everything and it’s all sorts of wrong?

That’s a little how this book is – the McGowan rumours escalate, and an innocent woman is targeted because of this and this reason, and because her initials are SM and everyone knows that when the police give you a secret identity, they try to keep to the same initials so you don’t get mixed up.

And then it gets  messier.

And that’s where it’s hard to describe the ending because – it’s actually so damn good. And you will second guess so many characters.

But, with Joanna, I couldn’t decide if she was trying my patience or Kara is an excellent writer. Joanna is in the thick of this rumour, making assumptions about the people around her, and in part fueled by Michael’s investigation, and him asking for help in some cases.

She grows ever more erratic in some ways when she lets her imagination get away with her, BUT isn’t that the point of this book and unfounded rumours and what they do to people?

The power in this book is that what you’ve read will reset and become something just a little different as you reach the end of the book. I think where Kara excels is in her characterisation, and when the truth comes out it’s when her characters shine. 


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