4th November 2018 – 4/5 stars
Every once in a while a book hits you with such force, it can leave you breathless.
There are no compromises with Silent Scream, the first in the DI Kim Stone series. The detective at the heart of the story is a tour de force – bold, brash and uncompromising, driven by a traumatic past that seems almost obligatory in crime fiction these days.
Her blunt manner makes her unlikeable and a little unbelievable, especially when she tears up the rule book if it hinders her investigation. But there’s method to her passion, as her investigation into three murdered children from a care home evokes memories of her own traumatic childhood in care.
The trouble is, the author continued to remind me about this troubled childhood. While some of the references were appropriate to the plot and for explaining Kim’s motivation and uncompromising behaviour, I didn’t need continual reminders of her difficult childhood. At times, it felt like it was being bludgeoned into my memory.
But as the body count rose and the investigation gathered pace, I came to admire Kim’s drive and personal crusade to find the killer and bring him to justice. It still led to a tense and exciting climax as killer and detective faced each other. Another twist followed to tie up the final loose end, but it felt a little hollow after all the excitement before, dragging out the conclusion of the story.
I know many readers are not concerned about the accuracy of police procedures in crime fiction, but inaccuracies can weaken credibility and jolt the reader out of the story.
Having grabbed me by the throat, Silent Scream left me feeling a little dissatisfied rather than breathless. It’s a shame as it’s a compelling story, quite unique, with a dynamic central character, but the distinctive tone and style were pushed too hard and too often for my liking. A little restraint would have done the trick.
Five figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to dig. An adult sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been taken but the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood …
Years later, a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country.
But when human remains are discovered at a former children’s home, disturbing secrets are also unearthed. D.I. Kim Stone fast realises she’s on the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades.
As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before they strike again. But to catch the killer, can Kim confront the demons of her own past before it’s too late?