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Friday, June 30, 2017

#CJSReads REVIEW: Part of the Silence by Debbie Howells @debbie_howells @kensingtonbooks

Part of the Silence
By Debbie Howells
Kensington Publishing Corporation

Our last #CJSReads book for June! Phew!  See what Sam, Jess and I thought of this thriller below.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.  

My Review:

Charlotte is just ho-humming throughout her life - in between jobs, she's trying to figure out what she wants to do next. In a transient relationship with Nick, she drinks her way through her days just waiting for the next ball to drop. There's news of an attack and she doesn't give it much thought until she recognizes the girl... though for some reason, she knows her by a different name. From this point on, she puts herself into the investigation. Why is the girl who was attacked going by Evie, when her name is really Jen? Where is her daughter, Angel, and does she really exist? Evie/Jen doesn't remember anything and feels like she's losing her mind. Can Charlotte help figure out this mystery?

This was a bit slow for me at the beginning and quite frankly, I never could relate to Charlotte in any way. She quite annoyed me to be honest. And Evie/Jen with her woe-is-me attitude was a bit daunting as I felt this got quite repetitive throughout the book. This has that slow build up to get you to the final reveal. I was definitely intrigued as to whether or not Evie/Jen was just crazy or if she was being manipulated in some way... but I did find my mind wandering off quite a bit and not fully into the story - especially as I felt it was quite predictable and there was no shock value. Granted, I read a LOT of thrillers so maybe the obviousness of this one just didn't quite cut if for me. I've read one of Debbie's other books, The Beauty of the End, and liked that one a bit better. She clearly knows how to write a good thriller, but I had a few issues with this particular one. Notably, the actions of law enforcement - not a whole lot seemed very plausible and it took away from the story for me. 

Would I read more of her work, absolutely! If you're reading Howells for the first time, I would suggest you start with The Beauty of the End. Her style of subtle, slow burning thrillers will be good for those of you who prefer that over the slap you in the ass, fast paced ones that I tend to veer toward.

3 stars!

Jessica's Thoughts:

This was my first novel by Debbie Howells and I really enjoyed her writing style. PART OF THE SILENCE was described as, "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." 

When Evie Sherman was found in a field, battered and left for dead, authorities soon discover that she has absolutely no memory of who she is. The only thing she does remember? Her daughter, Angel, and that she believes she is in grave danger. To her horror, the police can find no evidence of her daughter's existence. 

A local woman, Charlotte, hears of Evie's attack and thinks that she recognizes her from her childhood but not as Evie, as Jen. By no means were they close friends, but Charlotte remembered Jen being involved in a high profile kidnapping. One night, the child under Jen's care had disappeared and was never found again. Charlotte decides to contact the police and becomes a link to Jen's past to try to regain her memories. 

Even though early on in the book I was able to figure out the who/why, but that doesn't mean I didn't thoroughly enjoy the entire read. Howells does an incredible job weaving the story and bringing the reader on a journey. Is Evie losing her mind? Why is she constantly hearing "Trust no one" going through her head daily? Who is she warning herself about?

While I figured it out early, there were still great twists and it kept me tense the whole time reading! If you want a well-written, twisty, and suspenseful domestic thriller, then this is the one you'll want to pick up!

I give this a solid 4/5 stars!

Sam's Thoughts:

I had never read a novel by Debbie Howells before, so, when #cjsreads decided to add this novel to our June line up, I was excited to dive into the work of an unfamiliar author.   Part of the Silence had a beautiful cover and an intriguing synopsis involving a woman (Evie Sherman), with no recollection of whom she is, left for dead in a field and a daughter that she insists she has; however, there is no evidence of the girl’s existence.  As Evie goes deeper into her own mind and her obsession with “a daughter” intensifies, she must figure out whom she can trust and how she can protect the child she knows exists.

In the first few chapters, I was really interested to see who these characters were and how the plot would develop; it opens so vaguely that I was grabbed instantly.  Though, as I continued reading, one of the things I struggled with about this novel was the predictability and the actual characterization.

The novel is told through multiple perspectives; for the most part, the plot is described through the eyes of Charlotte (a local woman who knows Evie Sherman) from her high school years.  Jack, the police detective on the case, and, finally, a few chapters by Evie, narrates the remaining chapters.   There are also random entries from a diary of a girl named Casey.   I did like the multi perspective narration; I am always a fan of different character views.    However, I didn’t really care about what any of these characters had to say.  I found the Evie (sometimes known as Jen) character a little whiney, I found Jack to be randomly placed in the plot and I found Charlotte to be obviously off base.   These characters one-dimensional attitude gave a lot of predictability to the plot and I found myself easily able to figure this one out within the first 50 pages. 

For someone who is new to the thriller genre, this would be an entertaining read.  However, for someone more familiar with the genre, this one plays out like the same song and dance.

I gave this one a 2/5 stars. 

Big thank you to Kensington for these copies in return for our honest opinions.

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