Bruce, Alison - 'The Silence'
Libby is studying her A-levels. She is living away from home in a student house share arranged by her father, and a childhood friend, Matt, now studying at University, is also a member of the household. Their friendship, always close, has been deepened by their shared loss. Rosie, Libby's older sister, and school-friend of Matt, was found after apparently falling from a bridge onto a busy road and dying under the wheels of a long distance lorry. Libby's grief leads her to trying to live the rest of Rosie's life for her - she takes the same subjects as Rosie and works hard to get the same level of grades. Libby links up with Zoe, another school-friend of Rosie on Facebook, and is able to share her memories of Rosie and her doubts that Rosie's death was accidental with Zoe. Matt has recently suffered another loss, that of his mother, who died after a long illness.
Then Shanie, a housemate of Libby and Matt goes missing. Several days later she is found dead - another sudden death but this time not an accident. The initial investigation points to suicide but DC Gary Goodhew starts to wonder whether it is just a co-incidence that so many people are dying around Libby and Matt. He also realises that he had a personal link with Rosie. He starts to wonder whether the deaths linked.
This story is as much about the impact of sudden death, both on individuals and on the family and friends dynamic, as a mystery to be solved. It beautifully illustrates how people react differently to sudden death, particularly of a young person, their reactions somewhat flavoured by their own personalities and experiences and these reactions, in turn impact unexpectedly on the people around them. Although I have not been in the dreadful situation of some of Alison Bruce's characters, reading the book did bring back memories of loss and I found the characters' actions were believable. For me the title refers to the fact that we don't talk about death and its impact - we don't know what to say and therefore think our silence is more acceptable - sometimes, as this book shows, honestly trying to communicate is the best course of action.
This is the fourth outing for DC Goodhew and his colleagues and it doesn't fail to delight. Although each book can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone, having read all four, I am enjoying seeing DC Goodhew change and develop as more and more of his life history is revealed.
Susan White, England