Stuart Neville’s The Final Silence
July 17th 2014 (UK), October 28th 2014 (USA)
Read an excerpt on the author’s website here.
Rea Carlisle has inherited a house from an uncle she never knew. It doesn’t take her long to clear out the dead man’s remaining possessions, but one room remains stubbornly locked. When Rea finally forces it open she discovers inside a chair, a table – and a leather-bound book. Inside its pages are locks of hair, fingernails: a catalogue of victims.
Horrified, Rea wants to go straight to the police but when her family intervene, Rea turns to the only person she can think of: DI Jack Lennon. But Lennon is facing his own problems. Suspended from the force and hounded by DCI Serena Flanagan, the toughest cop he’s ever faced, Lennon must unlock the secrets of a dead man’s terrifying journal.
This is Stuart Neville’s 5th book and the 3rd that I have read – the others being his debut (The Ghosts of Belfast aka The Twelve) and his preceding one Ratlines) but the first one that has featured DI Jack Lennon as the central character and the fact that I finished it in just under 24 hours which is the type of pace I normally reserve for Michael Connelly or John Connolly shows that it possesses the necessary ingredients to keep you enthralled. Whereas Ratlines was a historical novel featuring German Nazis in Ireland in the 1960’s, this book returns us to contemporary Belfast where Jack Lennon is under suspension from the PSNI.
Lennon is the archetypal flawed detective with both personal and professional issues and he faces a number of additional challenges here as one of the victims is a former girlfriend and when his fingerprints are found on the murder weapon he is forced to go on the run on top of his current relationship foundering, finding somewhere to live, encountering custody issues, medical problems, addiction challenges and being on suspension. He would appear to have a pretty full agenda without conducting an investigation from the sidelines but that may be the only avenue open to him in order to prove his innocence.
What elevates this book out of the ordinary for me are the little vignettes that portray the personal lives of the various characters in the book and the various demands each is facing in their own way from Lennon himself to his erstwhile partner Susan as well as the bond formed between the lead police investigator DCI Flanagan and Ida Carlisle, the mother of Rea Carlisle who finds the book which initiates events.
Suffice to say that although Lennon is the anti-hero and the reader is aware of his innocence despite the circumstantial evidence there are plenty of shady characters present that may have roles to play in the conclusion and the fact that he is under suspicion himself adds impetus to his investigation as there is a limited amount of time available to him before he gets arrested.
I’m sure that those of you who have read Collusion and/or Stolen Souls will want to continue with The Final Silence but I have to refrain from direct comparisons as I’ve skipped those but I would heartily recommend this. My rating is 9 out of 10. A quick word on the covers – I prefer the UK one shown above on the left despite it sharing the Lee Child quote and the “His New Breakneck Thriller” tag with his “Stolen Souls” book – inserted below for those of you who care about such things, maybe the publisher will change it for the next book.