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Waites, Martyn - 'Speak No Evil'
Paperback: 400 pages (Feb. 2009) Publisher: Pocket Books ISBN: 1847390595

Martyn Waites has written eight previous books, three of which have featured the journalist/investigator Joe Donovan. In this book, Joe is interviewing Anne Marie Smeaton so that he can write a book about her. Anne Marie was convicted as an 11 year old child of murdering a young boy. Since her release from prison over 16 years ago, she has been trying to rebuild her life under her new name. But the shadow of the past is ever present, and she has had to move several times since her release. On the positive side, she has a supportive partner, Rob, and an almost 16 year old son, Jack, who is doing ok at school. But, at the start of this book, a boy, called Calvin, from the estate that she lives on, is strangled and then stabbed one night, and Anne Marie wakes up with blood on her hands. Her injuries probably came from a broken window in the flat, but can she be sure? She suffers from blackouts, and can't remember what happened.

Joe also has his own problems. He is separated from his wife as a result of the stress surrounding the kidnap of his own six year old son during a shopping trip a few years ago. The son disappeared, but Joe thinks he's found the family who took him and his investigation team have them under surveillance. Although this part of the story line is picked up on from earlier books, it is described well enough here that this part of the plot can be followed. Moreover, his daughter Abigail has left home and come up to Newcastle to find him, as she was upset when her mother announced that she was finally going to divorce Joe and get married to someone else. Meanwhile, a reporter, Tess, for the 'Daily Globe' is lurking on the estate trying to find out who murdered Calvin, when she spots Anne Marie, and recognises her. She tries to sell the story to her editor on the basis that it is hardly likely to be a co-incidence that a child has just been murdered on the estate, shortly after a child killer came to live there.

In the book, the story is developed in several ways: through Anne Marie's interviews with Joe, through Tess's investigation of Calvin's murder, through Joe and his investigators as they look into the background of Anne Marie, and through the developing friendship between Abigail and Jack. The coincidence of Calvin's murder and Anne Marie's decision to talk about her story for the first time results in a gradual escalation of events, with a tense climax in which both Jack and Abigail's lives are threatened.

The book is well plotted, well written, and skilfully unveils the story and the inevitable consequences. The description of the deprived estate, bullying in the school, and the reaction of the residents to the presence of a potential child killer on the estate is a bit predictable and somewhat covered before in other books. But even so, the book is a thriller in every sense, and a real page turner.

Read another review of SPEAK NO EVIL.

Michelle Peckham, England
March 2009

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 12/12/2010 15:15