Today Mandie is sharing her thoughts on The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell. We’ve both been desperate to read this since hearing the author on a panel at Newcastle Noir earlier this year, but Mandie beat me to the punch this time. Thanks to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting us to take part, and to publisher Orion for supplying a copy of the book. Here’s the all important bookish bits.
About the Book
Detective Buchanan remembers every victim.Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books
But this one he can’t forget.
The body of a woman has been found on a pristine New Zealand beach – over a decade after she was murdered.
Detective Matt Buchanan of the Auckland Police is certain it carries all the hallmarks of an unsolved crime he investigated 12 years ago: when Samantha Coates walked out one day and never came home.
Re-opening the case, Buchanan begins to piece the terrible crimes together, setting into motion a chain of events that will force him to the darkest corners of society – and back into his deepest obsession…
Shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Best Crime Novel of the Year award, The Sound of Her Voice is a brilliantly gripping crime thriller for fans of Sirens by Joe Knox, Streets of Darkness by A.A. Dhand, Stuart Macbride and Ian Rankin.
The Sound of Her Voice is the debut novel of New Zealand author Nathan Blackwell. I was lucky enough to listen to him talk about the book earlier this year at Newcastle Noir and knew that this was something I just had to read. And I wasn’t disappointed. The book was fast paced and kept me hooked right from the beginning.
It opens with Matt Buchanan witnessing the death of a colleague not long out of the police academy and this is one of the events that stay with him throughout his career, the other one being the unsolved case of the disappearance of teenager Samantha Coates. He has stayed in touch with her family over the years and constantly beats himself up over the fact he has never been able to give the family closure. When the decomposed body of another teenager is found without their head and hands, this sets off an investigation that sees Matt delve into the world of child pornography.
Matt is essentially a good police officer, but he feels that often the system fails the victims and he takes this to heart more than he should. His belief that he is not as good at his job as his colleagues has him doubting that he makes a difference, and this also makes him think that he is doing a lousy job bringing up his daughter since his wife died. As the story progresses you can see him drop deeper and deeper into a form of depression brought on by PTSD from all the traumatic cases, he has been involved in. He gets so disillusioned with the force that he quits not once but twice, only to be dragged back in by former colleagues as they get a hint that they may be able to solve the cases that he has been haunted by.
The Sound of Her Voice doesn’t shy away from what is always a very dark subject to write about and at times the level of detail may not be something that everyone will be comfortable with. I will admit that even I was not expecting some of the content of the book, but I didn’t feel that there was anything in there just for the sake of it or shock value. The characters were allowed to show their human side and that even the police are deeply affected by crimes and were often frustrated by procedure. The fact that the story is paced over a 20 year period adds to the authenticity as it shows the reality that cases can take years to crack or be brought to trial.
If you are looking for a cosy crime or a standard police procedural then The Sound of Her Voice may not be for you, but if you are looking for something that seems a little more gritty and true to life then you really should pick up this book. Nathan Blackwell has created a remarkable story and I really look forward to what he brings to his readers next.
About the Author
Nathan Blackwell was raised on Auckland’s North Shore and attended Westlake Boys’ High School before commencing a ten-year career in the New Zealand Police. Seven of those years were spent as a Detective in the Criminal Investigation Branch, where he was exposed to human nature at its strongest and bravest, but also at its most depraved and horrific. He investigated a wide range of cases including drug manufacture, child abuse, corruption, serious violence, rape and murder. Because some of his work was conducted covertly, Nathan chooses to hide his true identity.
Author Links: Twitter
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