Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.
The Silent House is a compelling new crime thriller novel by Nell Pattison. It is about the Hunter family, whose baby daughter is brutally murdered in the middle of the night. However, the family members are all deaf. No one heard a thing. The police call Paige Northwood, a BSL interpreter, to assist with their investigation by interpreting for the witnesses. The local community is in shock, but Paige has her suspicions about what really happened.
I greatly enjoyed the plot and narrative style of The Silent House. The narrative alternates between the murder investigation taking place in the present day and a series of flashbacks, counting down to the time of the murder. Each flashback bolstered my understanding of the present-day investigation and revealed little details and secrets along the way, allowing me to piece together the mystery myself.
An aspect of The Silent House I found particularly interesting was the information given about BSL and the deaf community, via the narrative voice of Paige Northwood, an interpreter. This was not a topic I knew anything about previously, and so I enjoyed reading about, and learning about, sign language.
I was also struck by the difficulty of Paige’s situation; as the interpreter, she could understand the thoughts and feelings of the suspects in a way that the police officers never could, making it increasingly difficult for her to remain unbiased and professional. This then seeps into the narrative voice; Paige’s sympathies and suspicions become blurred as she gets to know those whom she is interpreting for, making her a changeable and unreliable narrator. I’m not used to this in a crime novel (usually, crime novels cast a police officer or a detective inspector as the protagonist), but I liked the unreliability of Paige’s narration.
However, the downside of casting an interpreter as the protagonist, instead of a police officer, meant that, because The Silent House is still a crime novel, Paige was constantly trying to investigate the murder herself, meddling and nosying for secret information and leads. In my opinion, this was highly inappropriate – Paige is not an investigator, and she knows a great number of the suspects personally – and the police officers expressed this repeatedly, and, every time, Paige refused to listen. Because of this, I struggled to see her as a sympathetic, or even a likeable, character.
I don’t know what a solution to this is would be, though. Would it have been better if Paige had been characterised as a police officer who also knows BSL? Or is that “too convenient” for the plot? I’m not sure.
Anyway, on the whole, I enjoyed The Silent House and would recommend if you are seeking a new, interesting crime novel this year.
Star Rating: 3/5 Stars
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I acquired this book for free in exchange for a review via NetGalley and Avon, a division of HarperCollins.
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Have you read this book? What did you think?