Joey McCarthy is stabbed to death in a pub car park in a random act of violence. Shortly afterwards Charlotte Stone’s terminally ill mother dies and then, within weeks, two of her teenage friends commit suicide. With her home life disintegrating and both her father and brother racing towards self-destruction Charlotte realises that her own personal nightmare may not be over yet.
When DC Gary Goodhew finds the body of another suicide victim he is forced to recall some deeply buried memories of an earlier death; memories which lead him to Charlotte Stone and the events in her life. From their individual points of view they both begin to wonder whether all these tragedies are somehow linked to a bigger picture. And if they are right, then who will be the next victim?
The Silence by Alison Bruce – DC Goodhew’s fourth adventure – is another assured performance from the Cambridge based author and although a departure from her previous novels – certainly as far as I’m concerned – the novel marks a significant change in structure and a refreshing change moving away from being a case driven/ all out police procedural to a more thoughtful and adroit slow burner. When I read The Calling, Alison’s third novel in the series, I was impressed at its depth but this book ramps it up even further with another thought provoking tale, there’s nothing cosy about this read!
One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the fact that as I passed the half way mark I still had no clear idea where the book was going and what direction it would take. Dealing with a number of suicides the first half points to just that, suicide and the aftermath and devastation it invariably leaves behind. Bruce delves powerfully into family squabbles, destroyed relationships and the consequences of losing loved ones – parental or sibling – and there’s a poignant depth throughout the book I hadn’t anticipated.
Driven once again by a great and eclectic cast of characters the storyline moves at a decent pace – there’s a marked shift towards the second half – and although we don’t see a great deal of Goodhew and his grandmother in the first third of the book he – slowly but surely – makes his presence felt as the book matures, right up until a frenetic conclusion that sees him chasing his tail all over Cambridge! One of the things I missed this time around was the – and how do I put this politely – competition or rivalry between Goodhew and Kincaide. Although there in small parts the arguments and fractious relationship isn’t as prevalent as in previous titles and I missed that edge to the book. Having said that there is a scene in the book where Kincaide does himself no favours at all and gave me a little more insight into his personality, and for a few pages following that scene I regained my dislike of the detective.
Goodhew continues to stand alone for the majority of the book, he goes out on his own and prefers to tackle things without checking in with his superiors and although DI Marks does his best to rein his superstar in it’s never going to happen! Sue Gully helps him along the way and the pair have an interesting working relationship with Gully still prone to blushing uncontrollably at the sight of DC Goodhew. It still makes me laugh!
Goodhew’s grandmother is with us again to keep him in check, I’ve always loved her scenes and along with his mate Bryn the cast is complete. I should also give a shout out to perhaps the best cast member of all – Cambridge. Bruce has done another sterling job of bringing the streets, pubs and river to life with a wonderfully descriptive narrative. Yet again I find myself waiting impatiently for the next in the series. Bravo Bruce – that’s not a weird shout out to Juliet Bravo by the way!!
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Constable (19 July 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1849012032
- ISBN-13: 978-1849012034
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