Title: Part of the Silence by Debbie Howells
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
From the international bestselling author of The Bones of You comes a haunting and heartbreaking new psychological thriller about the distorted nature of reality, the unreliability of memory, and the enduring power of a mother’s love.
A blighted memory. A child who seems never to have existed. A watcher in the shadows.
When they find Evie Sherman, battered and left for dead in a maize field, the young woman has no recollection of who she is. After three days in a hospital bed, the fog in her head begins to lift, and she remembers two names: her own, and that of her three-year-old daughter, Angel. Evie is convinced that Angel is in grave danger. But the police can find no evidence of the girl’s existence.
It’s clear that Evie is having some kind of mental breakdown—or is it? Even in the depths of her amnesiac darkness, Evie knows her daughter’s voice, her chameleon eyes, every precious hair on her head. So how can she be losing her mind?
As Evie’s grasp on reality slips away, she finds herself haunted by the same three-word warning, which she hears over and over: Trust no one. But whom is she being warned against? The police? The doctors and nurses? Or the mysterious figure who’s been watching her, who knows all her secrets, has a hidden agenda—and perhaps their own twisted version of reality.
A woman with amnesia and her three year old missing daughter are at the center of Debbie Howells’ latest mystery, Part of the Silence.
Badly beaten and left for dead in the middle of a maize field, Evie Sherman has very few memories beyond her name and her daughter, Angel. The only problem? Police cannot find any sign of the young girl and when Charlotte Harrison recognizes Evie as Jen Russell, the case becomes even more confusing. Why would Jen change her name to Evie? Why is there no record of Angel? Who attacked Evie and left her for dead? Is there any connection between Angel’s disappearance and the still unsolved case of another 3 year old girl who went missing fifteen years ago? Local police have very few leads but DC Abbie Rose and DI Jack Bentley are working hard to find answers to these very perplexing questions.
Charlotte is dealing with her own issues when she recognizes Evie as her old classmate Jen. Feeling obligated to contact the police with this information, she very reluctantly agrees to DC Abbie Rose’s requests to keep the very disoriented victim company while the police try to uncover information about Evie. Charlotte is quite compassionate and caring during her visits with Evie and she continues to stay by her side during her recovery. While everyone else doubts that Evie’s daughter Angel exists, Charlotte remains extremely supportive and always believes Evie is telling the truth.
About midway through the investigation, DI Jack Bentley returns from holiday and he becomes involved in the case. He is extremely compassionate during his interactions with Evie and unlike his fellow detectives, he completely believes her story about her missing daughter. Jack is certain there is a link between the fifteen year old cold case and Angel’s disappearance but will he find the connection? Another body is discovered on the same property where Evie was attacked but does this murder have anything to do with her case?
Interspersed with the unfolding events in the present are flashbacks from Casey Danning, whose sister is the girl who vanished fifteen years earlier. These passages offer an unsettling portrait of a very troubled teenager who eventually matures into a rather disturbed woman. These contemplative entries become somewhat dark and twisted with Casey leaving a swath of destruction in her wake. Where exactly Casey fits into the current situation is unknown but her narration is quite chilling.
While Part of the Silence is rather atmospheric, the pacing is bit slow for the first half of the novel. The premise is certainly intriguing and Evie is a compelling, if somewhat unreliable, character. The storyline is engaging but it takes a while for the various story arcs to come together. Although astute readers will most likely figure out the major plot twist fairly early this does not lessen the overall enjoyment of the novel. Debbie Howells brings the novel to an abrupt yet satisfying conclusion.