Friday, October 31, 2014

Pierce’s Picks: “The Final Silence”

A weekly alert for followers of crime, mystery, and thriller fiction.

The Final Silence, by Stuart Neville (Soho Crime)

The Gist: As I wrote in Kirkus Reviews a couple of months back, Northern Irish author Neville’s fifth novel takes as its lead “damaged Belfast police inspector Jack Lennon, who here gets involved--disastrously--with a woman he once dated, but hasn’t seen for half a decade. Rea Carlisle, unemployed, impatient, and not quite grown into her 34 years, inherits the soulless abode of an uncle she barely knew. Things thus seem to be looking up for her … until she breaks into her late relative’s locked room and unearths a scrapbook filled with evidence suggesting the uncle had been murdering men and women for years. While her selfish father insists on covering up such dismal doings, lest they damage his political prospects, Rea turns to Lennon, who’s already burdened with worries, not limited to injuries he sustained during his last case (in Stolen Souls) and his increasing drug dependence. Lennon wants no part of Rea’s predicament. But after she meets a gruesome end, and the scrapbook disappears, he becomes the principal suspect in those misdeeds. Lennon must unravel the mystery of the dead man’s journal before he loses both his daughter and his livelihood.” Making it even more difficult for Lennon, writes Lynn Harvey in Euro Crime, is his new superior, Detective Inspector Serena Flanagan, “who seems determined to push him deeper onto the ropes.”

What Else You Should Know: Harvey adds that in The Final Silence, “human stories intertwine with ambition, deceit, and the darker regions of the psyche. Jack Lennon is already more physically battered and scarred than Ian Rankin’s [Inspector John] Rebus, but he too continues to slide down the greasy pole of his police career, notching up enemies with each lurching descent. Bad history and bad company contribute to his beleaguered state. Yet something within Lennon still urges him to play the ‘knight chivalrous’ down streets filled with the bitter legacy of Northern Ireland’s political struggles and factions.” The Irish entertainment site RTÉ Ten is especially complimentary of this yarn’s chief female players: “Serena Flanagan, the detective chief inspector who truly has the weight of the world on her shoulders, deserves her own series, while Ida Carlisle, Rea’s mother who is trapped in a loveless marriage to a politician, shows that Neville could take a break from the thriller genre with no difficulty.” Other readers, however, are more restrained in their praise. At the same time as he states that “The writing is crisp and good in the book. It practically begs you to keep turning the pages …,” a Good Reads reviewer complains that Neville’s story “felt a little uneven to me. The first part of the book was weighty in comparison to the rest … There was quite a bit of setup going on, and it was great, but when the actual meat of the novel comes it takes a slightly different turn than I was expecting, and quite a bit of the setup felt like it was for nothing.”

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