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The Silent House by Nell Pattison - Review

Friday, April 17, 2020

My friend Kate recommended this book to me on Goodreads and it did sound like something I'd like. It was only 99p on Kindle so I bought it - lockdown requires Kindle spending, I'm sure. I mentioned to Kate that I'd bought it and she said that she is friends with the author, Nell Pattison, and that Nell had seen many of her book tours cancelled because of the pandemic, so was trying to promote her books in other ways. That makes perfect sense, and from what I've seen on Twitter she's far from the only author who will suffer from loss of income. Please support authors if you can - I've been buying books from indie bookshops, I've been retweeting like mad, and I paid to do a workshop on Editing with Robin Stevens and Non Pratt, which was £15 and which I thought was definitely worth it! I'm self-employed myself and will probably see a drop in income as there'll be less bookkeeping for me to as the charity I work for has had to cut back on its activities a lot. It's a scary time for a lot of us.

Anyway, I really liked the premise of this book and for 99p I'm often willing to give something a go. I've bought far worse things for a quid that I ended up not liking! The premise is that a little girl is murdered in the house belonging to her dad and stepmum, and no one knows who's done it, or heard anything, because they are all Deaf. Nell herself is Deaf, having lost her hearing in her twenties. The main character in the book, Paige, grew up as the only hearing one in a family of Deaf people, and she's now an interpretor. She is hired by the police to interpret as they interview the family, the little girl's mum, and so on.

Paige ends up getting involved in the case quite heavily, because this is a crime novel, and that always happens. In the house that night were Lexi, the murdered little girl, her brother Jaxon, and her half-sister Kasey. Her dad Alan was asleep on the sofa downstairs, and her stepmum Elisha was asleep next door. Alan cheated on Lexi's mum, Laura, with Elisha and both women were pregnant around the same time, meaning the two little girls are very similar in age. Because of the small nature of the Deaf community in the area (the book is set in Scunthorpe and there's quite a lot about the poverty of the area, which I liked!), Paige knows Laura - she's her sister Anna's best friend. Anna comes to stay with Paige so she can support Laura, and she ends up getting involved too.

There's two detectives on the case and Paige ends up quite friendly with one of them, DC Singh. His boss, DI Forest, is really horrible to Paige for the most part, and I didn't think her reasons really stacked up. Paige also had an experience in her teens which explain why she feels quite guilty over the case and wants to help find Lexi's murderer. She starts to be threatened and there's a suspect list of quite a few people...

I will say that I really liked the story of this book. I liked Paige and her sister, and I liked the detectives. I liked Max, too, although I won't tell you who he is. I liked the setting of the Deaf community and how that meant that the police couldn't communicate directly with witnesses and suspects and what that meant to the investigation. I fell for some red herrings, and the ending kept me guessing nearly all the way to the end, which I like. For the story itself, I'd give the book four out of five.

However, I felt like the writing let it down somewhat. I felt like it could have done with another thorough editing. There were small inconsistencies that annoyed me. Paige's friend Gem seems to disappear halfway through the book - Paige doesn't look to her for support. Then there's parts that I just felt were overwritten to death, to the detriment of the story. Some bits go really slowly because there's so much use of description and adverbs that it takes away from the action. For instance, there's a bit where Paige's car is run off the road by a van that's been following her. The action here should be fast and direct. But there's sentences like "Suddenly, the..." We know it's sudden! The whole thing is sudden! It takes away from the action. In the same bit, a person is standing by Paige's car threatening her, and then they "jump" back into the van and drive away - how? What? I couldn't get past these issues and more to give this a four out of five, so I'm giving it a three.

However! I did like it and I saw that there's another in the series coming out in October, so I've pre-ordered it. It may be that the writing issues are ironed out or improved on, and I'm willing to give the author and the series that chance!


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