eBook review copy; 320 pages
Part of the Silence by Debbie Howells is a highly recommended psychological thriller.
Evie Sherman was found beaten and left for dead in a field. Now that she has come out of her coma, she is frantic because her three-year-old daughter, Angel, is missing and Evie knows she is in danger. When Charlotte Harrison sees the picture of Evie, she is sure she knows her, but by a different name, Jen Russell, from years ago when they were in school together. Charlotte contacts the police and, after identifying Evie as Jen, she begins working with DC Abbie Rose to try to help Evie/Jen. No other friends have come forth to identify her or confirm the existence of Angel.
To complicate things further, Evie's memory is gone with the exception of her daughter. The problem is that the police can't find any trace of her daughter existence. Because Evie has memory loss, the mystery unfolds through the point of view of Charlotte and Jack, an older police officer who enters the story later, along with diary-like entries from a girl named Casey. You get the impression almost immediately that Charlotte is likely an unreliable narrator, but she does seem to be helping in her own selfish way and Abbie Rose continues to call her for help or to visit Evie. There was a previous child who mysteriously disappeared fifteen years ago when Evie/Jen was watching her.
Excellent writing combined with unreliable characters and mysteries from the present and the past combined together to make this a compelling thriller. It's hard to figure out who is telling the truth. Although I had my suspicions early on, I thought the plot and the twists in the narrative were very well done. It's always exciting to read a well-written mystery that keeps you guessing and flows smoothly along, even when switching narrators.
The characters are well-developed in the context of the mystery and make the final twist even more surprising, but completely logical. Evie/Jen seems so muddled and fragile. Jack is a great character. Abbey Rose isn't as well developed, but you get the strong impression that there is a whole lot more she's thinking about than she reveals. Charlotte is an enigma. She seems so self-centered and a bit aimless, but she does help Evie/Jen. And why does no one else seem to know Evie/Jen or Angel?
Debbie Howells gives us another wonderful thriller with Part of the Silence. This is a great choice for a summer vacation read; it is engaging and well-written.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Kensington Publishing.