I am absolutely delighted to be joining the blog tour today for Perfect Silence the latest thriller from Helen Fields. I was late to the party with this series but very happily started my catch up last year and I love it. My thanks to Sabah Khan and publishers Avon for inviting me to join the tour and for providing the advance copy for review. I also have a fab extract to share with you all but first, here is what it’s all about.
About the Book
‘Relentless pace, devilish cleverness and a laser-sharp focus on plot.’ Chris Brookmyre
When silence falls, who will hear their cries?
The body of a young girl is found dumped on the roadside on the outskirts of Edinburgh. When pathologists examine the remains, they make a gruesome discovery: the silhouette of a doll carved in the victim’s skin.
DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach are struggling to find leads in the case, until a doll made of skin is found nestled beside an abandoned baby.
After another young woman is found butchered, Luc and Ava realise the babydoll killer is playing a horrifying game. And it’s only a matter of time before he strikes again. Can they stop another victim from being silenced forever – or is it already too late?
‘I am,’ a man replied from behind them. ‘Jonty Spurr. It’s nice to finally meet you in person, DCI Turner.’ He held out his hand, smiling. ‘Luc, it’s been a while. I would say it’s good to see you again, but not under these circumstances.’
‘Jonty,’ Luc replied. ‘What are you doing in Edinburgh?’
‘Stepping in for Ailsa while she looks after her sister. Had a stroke, I gather. I have a good deputy in Aberdeen, but you’re short-staffed here, so I’m on a temporary transfer. Shall we go and visit the young lady who’s waiting for you?’ he asked, handing them suits, boots and gloves. As they dressed, the forensics team erected an awning beneath the trees a few metres ahead of them, and the sound of a generator sent birds flying from the nearby woods. ‘Sorry about that, seems incredibly loud out here,’ Jonty said. ‘The body is getting covered in leaves and water droplets, hence the tent. You’ll need to keep your distance. There’s a substantial area covered in blood and we don’t want to disturb the trail. Have either of you had breakfast yet?’
‘Only coffee,’ Ava said. ‘Why?’
‘I’ve had two of my people lose their stomach contents so far this morning. We don’t need any more distractions,’ Jonty replied.
‘We’ve both been doing this long enough to keep our lids on,’ Ava said. ‘But thanks for the warning.’
They trod slowly forward on the white matting path beneath the canvas roof, avoiding stepping to either side and contaminating whatever articles of evidence might be lying there. Dr Spurr went ahead of them and hunkered down next to a small mound that was covered by a forensics sheet. He lifted it slowly, as if trying not to wake a baby.
Intrigued? You should be.
Now if you have read any of the books in this series then you know that in picking up a copy of Perfect Silence you are in for one heck of a ride. Dark, intense and littered with unapologetically brutal killers, these books are about as far from cozy crime as you are going to get. Not in a gratuitous way, but if you are looking for Miss Marple, you’ve come to the wrong part of town. I love them.
The book opens in rather dramatic fashion, focused upon a young woman who bears so many scars from a difficult childhood but for whom you know that things are not about to improve. It is hard to understand at first what you are reading, but clearly she is some kind of victim. Of what and just how dark this case is about to become you have yet to understand. And this is where our protagonists, DI Luc Callanach and DCI Ava Turner come in. Faced with a sadistic killer with a rather macabre and unique calling card, the face a race against time to prevent more women from being murdered.
Now up until now, the series has been largely focused upon Luc and his investigations, but for this book, there is a far greater focus upon Ava Turner and the effects the case has upon her. For the fans, do not worry, there is plenty of Luc to go around, but Ava is most certainly the lead here and to that end, it really does fit the story. The case impacts Ava in a way which we haven’t previously seen, her feathers always seemingly unruffled, even when she is in the firing line as a potential victim. And yet there is something about this case which breaks through the otherwise tough facade, and there is just something about the story, some indefinable element, which makes having the female lead work perfectly. Part of the investigation leads Ava to a face from her past, a perfect segueway which could only work with the focus upon her.
What I love about the series is the way in which Helen Fields captures the other side of life in Edinburgh. Far from the crowds of tourists navigating the Royal Mile and visiting the myriad of tourist shops, away from the shiny Government buildings or the imposing shadow of Arthur’s Seat, she has brought out the darkness. A dirtier, grittier side of the city which feels authentic without being a caricature of city life, whilst inhabiting this world with characters you grow to like very quickly and who you want to see succeed. The bad guys are not simply evil, they are complex and often damaged people who you will find make your skin crawl, but then you have your thoroughly flawed, intrinsically human Detectives who you root for to come good. The perfect balance.
This story is complex, multi-faceted, the victimology unclear at first but soon becoming more apparent. There is an element to the crime which will shock or surprise the reader, least of which is actually the calling card which may put you off both rag dolls and potentially gingerbread men. There is no direct link to the latter I should add, but the symbolism and reasoning will be apparent when you read the book. The pacing is spot on, with moments of high tension, chapters which end at the crucial moment, seconds before we are taken to a place that we have no desire to travel to, and, crucially, the killer remains a mystery to us as readers for the longest time and yet we know long before Ava and Luc, the extent and true nature of what they are facing.
I’m trying to sound intelligent (failing I know) but really all I want to say is ‘this book is bloody good. Just read it.’ But be warned. You may need to be slightly strong of stomach, as even I felt my lips curling and my stomach turning on occasion and it takes a lot to make me cringe. And that wasn’t even anything to do with the murders. There are things Ava sees which can’t be unseen and things we read that can’t be unread. I’ll leave it at that 😉
Another blooming fabulous addition to the series, I can’t wait to see where the author takes us next.
If you’d like to grab a copy of Perfect Silence for yourself it is available now from the following retailers:
About the Author
A former barrister, Helen now writes a Scottish set crime series – D.I.Callanach and D.I. Ava Turner. Her debut novel Perfect Remains and the second in the series Perfect Prey are Amazon best sellers. She currently commutes between Hampshire, Scotland and California, and lives with her husband and three children.
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