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Bruce, Alison - 'The Silence'
Paperback: 320 pages (July 2013) Publisher: C & R Crime ISBN: 1472101944

This is the fourth outing for DC Gary Goodhew, a detective in the Cambridge police force. The book begins with a description of the stabbing of Joey McCarthy, some time ago, by someone who seems to know Joey and about something dark that happened in the past. The story then switches to the present day and Libby, who is using Facebook to unburden herself to an old friend, Zoe, about the death of her older sister Rosie. Libby is nearly 18, at college and living in a shared house with other students, which include Matt, the best friend of her older brother Nathan. Rosie went out to the cinema and never came back about three years ago. She apparently drove out to a bridge over a major road, and jumped off, committing suicide. But no one can understand why, and this has major consequences for the friends and families involved. Shortly after Rosie's funeral, Nathan killed himself too. That makes Libby the last of the children. Her devastated parents have found it hard to cope, and are unpleasant to live with. Nathan's best friend Matt and his sister Charlotte were also traumatised by the suicides of their friends. But Matt is even more affected by the death of their mother from cancer four years ago (just after the McCarthy stabbing). Matt blames his father, as he thinks that stress generated by his dad was the root cause of his mother's cancer. He can't seem to get over it, and is finding it very hard to cope. But his father is also finding life difficult, and more likely to be found in the pub than at his job as a landscape gardener.

Then one of the other students in Matt and Libby's house, an American student called Shanie, commits suicide. At first the students simply think she has disappeared after an argument, but then Libby reports her disappearance, and the police find her body in her locked bedroom. Gary is on the investigating team. Coincidentally a younger Gary Goodhew had been one of the responding officers to Rosie's suicide, and had even tried to rescue her, believing her to be trapped but still alive, under a lorry. Talking to Charlotte and Libby as part of his investigation into Shanie's death, he is reminded of Rosie's suicide. Is there some connection between this new suicide and those of three years ago? Gary thinks there is.

This is a novel about the loss of children, and revenge for past events. As usual the story starts slowly until Gary starts to draw connections, and pursues leads that other colleagues ignore. Although the deaths might just be passed off as suicides by others, Gary has an instinct that there is more too it. The story effectively and slowly builds up to a dramatic conclusion as Gary finely pieces clues together, almost too late. The usual mix of characters (Gully, the female constable with a bit of a crush on Gary, Kincaide, the cynical colleague, and Marks, the boss) is there, with a bit more development on their various interactions, building on earlier books. THE SILENCE is a well plotted book that I enjoyed very much.

Read another review of THE SILENCE.

Michelle Peckham, England
July 2013

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 27/07/2013 18:44