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Splinter the Silence by Val McDermid

Splinter the Silence: A Tony Hill and Carol Jordan Novel - Val McDermid

Note: Even though this is Book 9 in the series, it works mostly fine as a stand alone novel.

Former British crime investigator Carol Jordan has a drinking problem and it finally leaves her in a jail cell, needing to be bailed out. She’s had a long, mostly successful, career and now some superiors want her to head up a task force that spans over various precincts. She has to make her choice right quick so that they can put things in motion. She chooses the new job assignment and starts pulling together her old team – a psychologist (Tony Hill), a computer specialist, and some seasoned detectives. It’s quite a varied crew, which I really enjoyed. They decide to do a practice project first, to work out all the kinks, deciding to look into the suicide of a successful, outspoken woman. But as they dig deeper, they find other women who were loud and proud of their causes that mysteriously turned melancholy and killed themselves.

I liked watching Carol struggle to get her legs back under herself. At first, she doesn’t believe she has a drinking problem but her long time friend Tony won’t back down on this one. In fact, he brings over his Xbox to give her a new addiction while she battles the alcoholism. It was great to have this personal battle running in the background even as our heroes track down an unusual serial killer.

The point of view bounces around from the killer to Carol to Tony and then a few side characters. It was well done. From the first, we readers know the supposed suicide is really a murder but we don’t know who is doing it nor his full motivation. I liked that we got into the mind of the killer from the beginning but didn’t have his identity.

I think I would have enjoyed this book quite a bit more had I read the previous books in the series. There’s plenty of references to past relationships, etc. that come across as excess fluff in this book. I think I would have cared a lot more about the side characters had I come to know them previous to this installment in the series. However, this is my only criticism of the book. It’s well written, the pacing is great with a mix of action and contemplation, loved the cat and mouse aspects too.

The murders bring to light the rising issue of cyberstalking and trolls gone out of control. The author did a great job of showing how various people react to internet threats (some people are insensitive and blow it off and others take it seriously) and then also showing how it affects the lives of those targeted. I liked that she gave some great, very visceral examples but didn’t linger over the threatened violence.


I received a copy at no cost from the publisher (via LibraryThing) in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration:   The narrator… hmmm.. well, I have loved Gerard Doyle’s work for The Grim Company (an epic fantasy) and the retelling of Odysseus through the eyes of boy slave (Torn from Troy is Book 1 in that series). He does young male voices really well, having a kind of funny filled-with-wonder voice. However, I had a hard time getting use to his voice for a hardened serial murderer or a brittle, angry lead detective. It took me about 3 CDs to finally settle into the book because of the narrator. But once I got use to his voice, he did have multiple accents, keeping each character distinct. His female voices were believable.