It’s not often I get to the end of a book and find myself lost for words – although perhaps that’s an appropriate response to a book titled The Silence.
I turned the last page and thought: ‘Oh!’
(Strictly speaking, I didn’t turn the page, I swiped my kindle. But you get the point.)
And, it wasn’t: ‘Oh, that was unexpected.’ Or even: ‘Oh, I enjoyed that.’
Although both of those are true.
No, it was more a sort of flat ‘Oh!’ The sort that accompanies a pricked balloon.
The ending was just a bit too tidy.
Such a shame because author Katharine Johnson’s novel is an intriguing and thoughtful crime thriller that kept me engaged pretty much until the last couple of pages.
Perhaps what’s needed is more of a Gone with the Wind ‘tomorrow is another day’ ending where the reader is left almost certain things will turn out right but there’s a tantalising frisson of doubt…
However, the fact I mind so much about the neatly-folded loose ends is a tribute to Johnson’s fine writing.
There’s not a word out of place and the slow burn of tension is skilfully handled as the story flits satisfyingly between past and present.
As a child Abby Fenton hero-worshipped her older cousin Phillippa – but you sense that grown-up Abby sees her rather differently.
But did she deserve to die?
And what part did Abby play in her death?
Years later, with a successful career and a loving family, Abby has managed to suppress her bad memories – until the chance discovery of human remains in the grounds of an idyllic Tuscan holiday home forces her to confront the past and relive the summer she spent at the villa in 1992.
A summer that ended in tragedy.
And the nearer Abby gets to the truth the closer she comes to losing her sanity.
In order to hold onto the people she loves most, she must make sure they never discover what she did.
But the reappearance of someone else from that summer threatens to blow her secret wide open.
And that’s where, for me, Johnson began to lose the plot a bit.
I suppose I was so living the story in Abby’s shoes that I didn’t buy her response.
I would have done things differently – though whether that would have affected the ultimate outcome who knows?
This is an absorbing story, let down just the teeniest, tiny bit by an ending that, for me, didn’t work.
Please read it – and let me know if you agree.
Review by Sue Featherstone.
Available to buy on Amazon.