Silent Scream is a story of secrets that some thought long buried, and the consequences of years if deceit in covering up a murder. When an application to dig the grounds of an long abandoned childrens home is granted, the truth is about to be revealed to the whole world. A face from the past returns, and the five people who kept the secret are being targeted one by one, not to ensure that they maintain their silence, but for the most basic and common motive of all – revenge.
The first victim is found drowned in her own bathtub, the second almost beheaded in his own kitchen. As the link is drawn between the two and the site of the dig, the hunt is on to find a killer before they can claim more victims.
Silent Scream touches upon a complex subject – children left to the ‘system’ when every one in their lives has left or abandoned them – and the actions of adults who were supposed to protect them but ultimately let them down, choosing self gratification, greed and self preservation instead.
Enter, stage left, Detective Inspector Kim Stone, a strong, no nonsence character that you are going to either love or hate. She is a complex character with her own demons that she keeps in a dark secluded corner of her mind, seldom to be allowed out to play. You will get a fraction of what drives her character in this book, including her traumatic past, which is given to you piecemeal throughout. No glorification or graphic detail, just a bit by bit reveal, reflective of the way that Kim herself chooses to remember and manage the trauma in her own mind.
The reason I say you will love or hate her is that Kim Stone is not a hearts and flowers kind of character. She is strong, focused, completely lacking in social skills and yet unwilling to be swayed from her mission of solving the case and moving on. She doesn’t invite humour, and the character does not have comedic moments to make you warm to her. In fact she is a very hard character to ‘warm’ to. She won’t let you. She is disconnected from her emotions and avoids complicated relationships or opening up to people, including her only ‘friend’ DS Bryant. But she has a need to fight for the victims, a depth of understanding that can only come from someone who has ultimately suffered herself, and an underlying tenderness, displayed best when it comes to the character of Lucy, that is extremely well written. She might not be able to show it or say it, but you know that she cares, and she has a team that respects her all the more for it. To be honest, I do find it hard to criticise the character of Kim as I recognise a lot of her traits in myself, and as such, with the way she is portrayed on the page, I have to say she is a truly well developed and observed character indeed.
With a great cast of supporting characters, including DS Bryant, you are in for a real treat. Bryant understands Kim like no other, takes no nonsense from her, perseveres with their friendship even when you think others would walk away and is the only one she will allow to push her. You also have Dawson, a bit of a tart by all accounts, easily distracted but ultimately good at what he does when focused, and Stacey with the thick Black Country accent which I couldn’t help but smirk at. I know a ruck of people who talk exactly like that. All of the local references made me chuckle too. I’ll never look at the Hagley Road in the same way again.
Silent Scream is a well written, complex story, and a great start to what promises to be a fascinating series of books. It is fast paced enough to keep you turning page after page, with several clues along the way as to who the murderer may be, enough red herrings to make you keep changing your mind and a twist at the end that you won’t entirely be expecting. Yes, your protagonist pulls no punches and has all the social grace of an angry rottweiler at times, but heck, she likes bikes. She can’t be all bad now can she.