By CHARLIE FERN
Good people can be driven to do horrific things and this is a major story thread in Caroline Mitchell’s suspense novel “Silent Victim,” a page-turner that should please many readers.
Emma is a wife and mother about to move from Colchester to Leeds, England. However, she has a major skeleton in her closet. She kills her high school art teacher who seduced her and buries his body on her property.
Emma decides to find the body and properly dispose of it. However, she does not see the body when she goes to dig it up. Emma decides to tell her husband Alex about her crime. This revelation will lead the pair on a journey where unpleasant truths that could destroy their lives will be revealed.
The story is told through three perspectives: Emma, Alex and Emma’s art teacher Luke. The narrative also shifts between 2002-2003, 2013 and 2017. While this may seem confusing, the writing is simple enough for the reader to be able to put the clues together.
The only downside to this style is that certain narratives are more compelling than others. Alex’s sections are the most interesting of the three, as he stands to lose the most in the story. It is slightly disappointing when the story shifts from Alex’s present day struggle to Luke’s experiences from fifteen years earlier, important as they may be.
Luke’s sociopathic personality shines through in his chapters, which are unsettling to read. The fact that people like Luke exist in real life make his perspective harder to digest. However, these passages effectively convey what drove Emma to murder him.
Before she was a writer, author Caroline Mitchell was a police detective and this experience is what allows the characters to feel like human beings. The reader wants to know what will happen to these people, and not just because of the situation they are in but because Mitchell understands people, and that is evident in the pages of the novel.
The fact that the novel is set in England means there are terms unfamiliar to many Americans. Fortunately, the context is evident enough that one can easily pick up on what these words mean in relation to the story.
The novel also takes on the complex issues of child abuse and eating disorders. These problems add more layers to the mystery and effectively show why certain characters behave the way they do. The ramifications of these problems are evident to the reader, which ensures that they will not be taken lightly.
While the premise is obviously dark, Mitchell manages to place moments of humor in the story. Emma’s sister Theresa and their co-worker Josh provide comic relief during scenes set in the bridal shop Emma owns. The customers of the store are amusing as well.
“Silent Victim” manages to be both shocking and accessible, which is not an easy task to accomplish for any writer. Fans of psychological suspense will love this book, and it has the potential to be a strong film in the future.
The Flyer gives “Silent Victim” a 9 out of 10.