For some reason, despite living right now in one of the most difficult times in my life thanks to COVID-19, the book styles of my choice has been mysteries and thrillers. Susan Allott’s debut novel The Silence caught my eye, and then delivered big time.
It’s 1997, and Isla Green — newly sober and hanging on by a thread — receives a phone call from her father Joe. He tells her that their old neighbor (and Isla’s babysitter) Mandy, who has been missing for 30 years — has been discovered, unfortunately dead. She had been in a troubled marriage, and most people believed she had fled and started a new life somewhere. Unfortunately for Joe, he is believed to be the last one to see her prior to her going missing, and therefore has become the prime suspect.
Isla reluctantly returns to the former home in Australia that she had gladly fled years before to provide support for her father. She is surprised when she learns that her mother isn’t so sure that her father isn’t guilty.
Isla begins looking into things, and it isn’t long before she starts learning family secrets — both about her father and her mother, but also about her neighbor Mandy and Mandy’s husband Steve.
Allott’s novel delve into substance abuse, domestic violence, and mental illness, but in a way that is intelligent, and not preachy. One of the saddest facets of the story was learning that the colonial Australians — under the guises of good will — would remove without permission children of Aboriginal natives who they believed could live a better life in a white family. It was very sad.
The Silence provided me a meaty read with plenty of clever and surprising twists and taught me a few things to boot. I liked the book very much.