Saturday, 22 December 2018

Review: 'Perfect Silence' (DI Callanach #4) by Helen Fields

When you dip into a series halfway through, you’re not supposed to really realize until you Google the book. For me, that was mostly the case with Perfect Silence. Things had happened before the book started, clearly, but they were never an obstacle and when they came up they made perfect sense to rationalize a character’s actions. That’s what I want to see! Books playing into each other without being co-dependent. I do also have to say that part of what attracted me to this book was that it was set in Scotland and I kind of miss Edinburgh at the moment. But leaving my sentimentality behind, let’s get into it! Thanks to HarperCollins and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review. 

Pub. Date: 8/23/2018
Publisher: Avon Books UK

‘Relentless pace, devilish cleverness and a laser-sharp focus on plot.’ Chris Brookmyre 
When silence falls, who will hear their cries? 
The body of a young girl is found dumped on the roadside on the outskirts of Edinburgh. When pathologists examine the remains, they make a gruesome discovery: the outline of a doll carved into the victim’s skin. 
DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach are struggling to find leads in the case, until a doll made of skin is found nestled beside an abandoned baby. 
After another young woman is found butchered, Luc and Ava realise the babydoll killer is playing a horrifying game. And it’s only a matter of time before he strikes again. Can they stop another victim from being silenced forever – or is it already too late?
 In Perfect Silence one theme stood out to me and that was that of “vigilante justice”/ ”punishment of the immoral”. The book revolves around two different cases but they are united by the shaed ense that someone out there is trying to clean up the streets, get rid of those they deem unworthy and enforce their own set of morals. It is a notion that has always fascinated me when it came to superhero characters like Batman or Daredevil, these deeply tortured men we root for because they only get rid of the bad guys. The main criticism they face in their own stories is that no one gave them the right to decide, even if flawed policing or legislating gave them the opportunity. In Perfect Silence Helen Fields puts us on the side of those who are being punished, who aren’t considered good, as well as on the side of the police officers trying to save these people, no matter who they might be. It was a thought I found really interesting and although Fields doesn’t dig into it very deeply, focusing rather on solving the crimes at hand, I helped keep me intrigued. 

 Perfect Silence starts when  the body of a young girl is found just outside of Edinburg. Shortly after, a doll fashioned out of the girl’s skin is discovered next to an abandoned baby. So begins perhaps one of the most macabre mystery/detective books I have read in a while. Fields puts you both inside the head of the victim, as well as inside her investigators, DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach. Knowing the victims means that each crime packs even more of an emotional punch, as we see how hard they try to survive. Similarly, Ava and Luc are battling their own demons while chasing the real ones. Supported by a cast of great character, Fields’ protagonists race against time to save whomever they can. Perfect Silence is unapologetic in its harshness, and for some readers it might be a bit too much, but I found that Fields still treats it with a kind of dignity. It is not gory or painful for sensationalism, but to make a point. In the end I found myself enormously invested in the characters and the novel, so I will definitely be looking up the rest of the series soon! 

 Helen Fields hardly needs praise from me but I’m going to give it to her anyway. Fields shies away from the simple black and white, and it is within the grey area that Perfect Silence triumphs. The plot is complex, with different narrators and two different story-lines, but Fields brings it together seamlessly, allowing one crime to inform the other. The personal lives of her protagonists don’t distract from the plot but rather add to it. Another thing I liked about Perfect Silence was the way Fields captured a different side from Edinburgh than you usually see. It’s not touristy or medieval, it is a modern city dealing with a dark underbelly. Finally, Fields manages to let the reader in on information before the main characters, but without giving away the actual identity of the killer. It will throw you for a loop and somehow make it all much more horrifying. In my research for this review I also found out that DI Luc Callanach is usually the main character (the series' name should really have been a hint, but oh well), but Perfect Silence focuses much more on DCI Ava Turner. Nothing about the book gives away that this is a new direction, which is just another sign of Helen Field's command of her writing.

I give this novel...

4 Universes!

Perfect Silence kept me captivated throughout and on the edge of my seat. You can’t help but get attached to Fields’ characters and she crafts her novel so clearly that you never once lose the thread. Everything comes together in the end in a way that is very rewarding for a reader constantly looking for clues. I’d recommend this novel to anyone with an appetite for Mystery, but prepare yourself, this one is a hard pill to swallow.

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