Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I'm wide awake and I'm in pain: PART OF THE SILENCE.

Part of the SilencePart of the Silence by Debbie Howells

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Charlotte Harrison is shocked when a woman in her local town of Cornwall is found badly beaten. Things like that don't typically happen in this quiet town. The beating has left the woman with little memory of who she is or her life: she insists her name is Evie and that her three-year-old daughter, Angel, is missing. But as the investigation continues, the police can find no evidence that Angel even exists. Charlotte recognizes Evie as Jen Russell, a former classmate. She goes to the police and finds herself sucked into the case, as it seems as if Evie has no friends or family able to help. Charlotte and the police know that, as a teen, Jen Russell was babysitting a local girl, three-year-old Leah, when she disappeared and was never found again. Is Jen/Evie simply transposing these memories into that of "Angel"? Or is her daughter really missing? And, if so, is Evie still in danger?

This novel was a page-turner for me, despite a cast of fairly odd and unsympathetic characters, led by Charlotte. She comes across as callous from the beginning--unfeeling, harsh toward her boyfriend, Rick, and getting involved in helping Evie only to show Rick she has a heart. While you feel sorry for Evie, you don't get to know her very well, thanks to her memory loss. The POV also shifts to Jack, who is a police officer, and flashbacks from Leah's older sister, Casey, who hated her perfect little sister and the ruin her disappearance wrought on her family.

The novel is captivating early on as details unfurl slowly about Evie's past. As it continues, the book certainly kept me confused about Evie/Jen's state of mind. Is she simply confused, or did someone truly steal her daughter? It grabs you, for sure, but after a while, you get a little tired of the "poor Jen trapped in her house, wondering what happened to her daughter." Things do move along eventually, though there's never any frantic action. Just a slow, suspenseful buildup to the final reveal.

Some things are a tad frustrating. For instance, Jack doesn't always seem to act like a police officer, and I'm never quite sure of his role or why Howells decided to insert him partway through, though I liked him as a character. And, personally, I'm not sure I would want the police force in Cornwall to assist in any crime related to me -- they seemed a bit inept. Small town police, perhaps?

Still, overall, I enjoyed this one. I was able to figure out bits and pieces, but it kept me guessing and engaged throughout. If you've never read any of Debbie Howells books before (which would be a shame), I'd point you to The Bones of You first. This is still a solid thriller and rates 3.5 - 3.75 stars. I will definitely continue to be eager to read anything Howells writes.

You can read my reviews of two of Howells' previous novels here: THE BONES OF YOU and THE BEAUTY OF THE END.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and Netgalley (thank you!) in return for an unbiased review; it is available (in the U.S.) everywhere as of 06/27/2017.

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