Zach Hamilton was said to have committed suicide five years ago, but the idea of the whole thing still bothers his wife, Mia, one of two first persons in this novel. She was villainized by the community and media for a long time. It seems that Zach, a professor, was accused of murdering a young woman, his writing student, and then doing himself in, but the student’s body was never found. Mia has gone on with her life, raising their daughter, becoming a therapist/counselor and finding a new man.
One day a woman named Alison comes to see Mia as a client and in the middle of the discussion she lets slip with “Zach didn’t kill himself.” And then she shuts up and even pretends she didn’t say it. Mia has believed Zach was guilty for most all of the time – that’s how the evidence stacks up.
Meanwhile, we get the version as told by Josie, Zach’s student, and her point of view on their relationship as well as her own very troubled life.
by Sarah Denzil
2017 / 294 pages
read by : Antonia Beamish and Rosie Jones – 9h 38m
Rating: B+ / psychological suspense/thriller
Virtually everyone is suspect here – there’s Mia herself – the reader is never quite sure she’s telling all she knows. Alison is certainly mysterious – emotionally disturbed and possibly dangerous. Alison’s husband Dominick has his own version of events. The only narrative which might be on the level is that of Josie who apparently has nothing at stake – she’s missing for sure, probably dead – been declared dead.
The idea of unreliable narrators (or characters) goes further than simply different points of view – they sometimes have internal conflicts or things just don’t add up in their stories. Of course other times the reason for their unreliability is that they’re children, they’re drunks, or they’re mentally challenged. The reader just can’t take what they say at face value even allowing for point-of-view.
This is a pretty standard psychological thriller – the suspense is set up, the psychological issues made clear through the character development, the story arc is set up with the thriller part at the end. Descriptive passages and literary flourishes are kept to a minimum and used to heighten suspense. Some chapters end as cliff-hangers. One good thing is that foreshadowing is kept to a minimum – it has it’s place, but not here.
But for all that, Silent Lies is good entertainment and Croft demonstrates considerable skill in this book – as I’m sure she has in her priors. This is her 6th book.