eBook review copy; 304 pages
The Silence by Susan Allott is a highly recommended mystery set in Australia.
Isla Green who is living in London returns to Sydney after a phone call from her father, Joe. Apparently Mandy, the neighbor who lived next door and sometimes cared for Isla, disappeared thirty years ago, in 1967. Her father always said the couple who lived there moved away, but now Mandy is believed to have been murdered. Now, in 1997, Isla's father is the main suspect because he was the last one to see Mandy alive and he had a brief affair with Mandy just before she left.
Now Isla is returning home for the first time in a decade to support her father. This is not a happy visit. Her mother, Louisa, is an angry, bitter woman. Her father, Joe, is an alcoholic and has a history of domestic violence. Once Isla arrives she begins to remember more about her childhood, Mandy and her husband Steve, and 1967.
The narrative alternates between the present day action in 1997 and thirty years previously in 1967. Secrets from both couples are slowly revealed from the past and set against the current investigation. Isla mines her memory and begins to ask those around at that time questions. Obviously more was going on back then than people will admit and Isla begins to make some connections and expose some of the secrets.
This is a character driven mystery, so Allott spends time and care while developing her characters and establishing their pasts and present. She does a good job placing her characters in a specific historical time and place. The plot is a slow reveal as more information is exposed. It is not always an easy read, as domestic violence is part of the plot, along with other atrocities of the past, but it is a well written and intricately plotted novel.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.