Part of the Silence

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Jun 2017

Member Reviews

I have read and enjoyed a couple of books by this author, so I had high hopes when I started this one. Although a good read, for me it wasn't quite the great read the other two were.
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From the international bestselling author of The Bones of You comes a haunting and heartbreaking new psychological thriller about the distorted nature of reality, the unreliability of memory, and the enduring power of a mother's love.
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Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I thought I would. I liked it but I didn’t love it. I can’t really pinpoint why. Something just didn’t quite fit. I don’t know if it is because some sections felt slower than I would have liked them to be. Perhaps it was because I was able to guess the villain quite early in the book. At the end of the book, I just fell like a connection was missing hence my uncertainty about the book.
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This was just an okay read for me. I am not really a fan of books with different points of view in each chapter. It was quite easy to figure out how this was going to end. Very little psychological thrill for me.
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Part of the Silence by Debbie Howells is a highly recommended psychological thriller.

Evie Sherman was found beaten and left for dead in a field. Now that she has come out of her coma, she is frantic because her three-year-old daughter, Angel, is missing and Evie knows she is in danger. When Charlotte Harrison sees the picture of Evie, she is sure she knows her, but by a different name, Jen Russell, from years ago when they were in school together. Charlotte contacts the police and, after identifying Evie as Jen, she begins working with DC Abbie Rose to try to help Evie/Jen. No other friends have come forth to identify her or confirm the existence of Angel.

To complicate things further, Evie's memory is gone with the exception of her daughter. The problem is that the police can't find any trace of her daughter existence. Because Evie has memory loss, the mystery unfolds through the point of view of Charlotte and Jack, an older police officer who enters the story later, along with diary-like entries from a girl named Casey. You get the impression almost immediately that Charlotte is likely an unreliable narrator, but she does seem to be helping in her own selfish way and Abbie Rose continues to call her for help or to visit Evie. There was a previous child who mysteriously disappeared fifteen years ago when Evie/Jen was watching her.

Excellent writing combined with unreliable characters and mysteries from the present and the past combined together to make this a compelling thriller. It's hard to figure out who is telling the truth. Although I had my suspicions early on, I thought the plot and the twists in the narrative were very well done. It's always exciting to read a well-written mystery that keeps you guessing and flows smoothly along, even when switching narrators.

The characters are well-developed in the context of the mystery and make the final twist even more surprising, but completely logical. Evie/Jen seems so muddled and fragile. Jack is a great character. Abbey Rose isn't as well developed, but you get the strong impression that there is a whole lot more she's thinking about than she reveals. Charlotte is an enigma. She seems so self-centered and a bit aimless, but she does help Evie/Jen. And why does no one else seem to know Evie/Jen or Angel?

Debbie Howells gives us another wonderful thriller with Part of the Silence. This is a great choice for a summer vacation read; it is engaging and well-written.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Kensington Publishing.
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Rick told Charlotte a woman had been brutally attacked and left for dead. The woman had been in a coma when she awoke all she could remember was her name was Evie and she had a three year old daughter named Angel. Evie was left in the middle of a field. Rick was Charolette’ lover when he was around. Rick was a surfer and came and went as he wanted. Charolette could surf but not as well as Rick. Rick told Charlotte everyday she spent in the house not really doing anything.  Charlotte recognizes the woman who said her name was Evie.  But Charlotte knows her as Jen from college. Charlotte and Jen had not been friends but she knew her from the the girl who was babysitting three year old Leah who disappeared and never was found. Evie said her three year old was missing. Then Charolette calls the police and talks to Detective Abbey Rose and tells her she recognized Evie but as Jen. Detective Rose asks Charlotte to go to the hospital the next day and she agrees. Then the police check and can find no proof that Jen ever had a daughter named Angel. The police and even Jen herself is starting to believe that she is loosing her grip on reality but she hears angel’s voice in her mind and another voice telling her not to trust anyone. The police also wonder if Jen is confusing Leah with an imaginary daughter named Angel. One police officer named Jack who had lost his own son was one of the few who believed Jen. 
I liked this story it had a good plot. This was fairly short but a good read. But it did drag for me at times. I don’t think the cops were very good at all i wouldn’t want them for anything I might need a cop for. like why didn’t they find the kids picture behind the refrigerator if the checked the whole house where Jen had been living? I felt bad for Jen especially when she questions her own sanity. This kept my attention all through the book. I wanted to know how things were going to turn out especially for Jen. I thought Charlotte was cold other than when she stuck up for Jen against Abbey. And I felt she was holding something back. L loved the twists and turns of this story and felt this was well written. I loved the ins and outs and twists of this story and I recommend.
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What is truth and how do memories imprint themselves is at the root of this well written novel.  I'll admit that I did figure out what was going on before the end of the novel but I liked the characters so much and found the premise so interesting that I kept reading to make sure I was right.  Try this one for a plot driven (no spoilers) novel set in Cornwall (one of my favorites) that actually will make you think. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
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I have read and enjoyed a couple of books by this author, so I had high hopes when I started this one. Although a good read, for me it wasn't quite the great read the other two were. 
So, a young woman, Evie, is found beaten and left for dead in a cornfield. When she eventually comes round, all she can talk about is her daughter. Sadly, the police can find no trace of her ever having a daughter and it soon transpires that there is something in her past that could mean that she could be mistaken. Evie however is adamant and when Charlotte comes forward, saying that she knew Evie from school albeit under a different name to the one she has given the police, they then try and get her to help Evie try to remember her past, to piece together what really happened to her. And then another girl goes missing. Are the two connected? And if so, how?
Well, this had me running round in circles chasing my tail. Mostly cos I saw things a bit earlier than the police and had to wait for them to catch up a bit. I had to bite my tongue a few times too cos I found myself shouting at them to do this or that. Boy I think I could have got to the truth a wee bit quicker than them if I was on the case. I think if I hadn't got the end early, if the later twists actually caught me, then I think I would have enjoyed the book a whole lot more but, I have to call it as I see it and that's what happened. 
All that said, it was an easy book to read. The words pretty much flew off the pages to me and, despite my frustrations, kept my attention nicely the whole way through. Apart from wanting to bang several of the characters' heads together I though they were, within context, well described. I did think Jack was a bit wet at times I thought his heart was in the right place. Didn't really like Charlotte to be honest, but I don't have to like a character, just connect to them in some way and I managed that quite well with her. 
Pacing was on the whole good although for me, it did drag at times. Probably due to me guessing some stuff early and having to wait. Patience is not my friend! Similar reasoning could also be behind me not being left completely satisfied at the end either. I also found the final few chapters to be a tad rushed.
On the whole, a good read, again not as good as her others but it definitely hasn't put me off reading more from this author in the future.

My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
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The blurb says 
A blighted memory. A child who seems never to have existed. A watcher in the shadows.
This book blurb made the book sound so much more exciting than it really was, it even starts that way. Evie is attacked, she has a head injury, she was in coma for 3 days and has lost her memory but she remembers her own name and her daughter, Angel. But there is no proof that the child existed, other than Evie's sketchy memory. So the police investigation begins with Abbey Rose at the helm and Jack Bentley assisting. There is a voice inside Evie which says not to trust anyone. She is recognised by her school friend Charlotte Harrison as Jen Russell. And it leaves the police confused as to why did Jen become Evie? So far so good.. There is a bit of suspense, a bit of a mystery.  My mind starts racing with what could be... 
Some days later, there is a 12 year old found dead in the fields by Charlotte and the police start linking crimes. During the investigation, it does come out that fifteen year ago, there was a child Leah Deming who disappeared when Jen was babysitting. My mind is still racing... 
Leah also had an elder sister Casey, who later, committed suicide by falling into the ocean. My mind races faster... 
But then it stops... 
This is the barebones of the story... Sounds exciting right?? But it isn't. The book which should have caused my blood racing, was extremely placid, where it should have been stormy, it was calm. 
What I didn't like
The story is told in the voices of Charlotte and Jack and occasionally Casey from the past.. The chapters don't exactly flow smoothly. 
The last few pages should have caused increased adrenaline flow but there are so many gaps in the explanation. If there is murder and missing children, I want it to be explained clearly how it was done, wrapped nicely with a bow on the top. 
It is described as a dark psychological thriller, but making a character have mental health problems with no help sought, does not make it a dark thriller but a sorry figure of that character. 
I was left more confused and discouraged by the way everything was described. There were long descriptions about the woods to the point I stopped reading because I didn't know why the characters were going into the woods, because they were not actively searching for Angel
Forensics could not a find a single trace of the child in the house. Not a single cell in the drain pipes?? Impossible, no criminal is that thorough and certainly not the guilty in this book, they are pretty dumb. Forensics took the house apart, yet missed a child's drawing,  fallen behind the refrigerator. Even the police investigators feel disorganised. 
The characters were not etched properly, I couldn't connect with any, the description of the past school life is like mean girls of high school. 
Where is the suspense and thrill in this book, everything is told to me rather than described.. Am I supposed to surmise and imagine how the crimes could have taken place?? 
What I did like
Debbie Howells writes well, long descriptions of the sea and the woods.
There is a bit of fantastical supernatural which gives little hope.
She does try to make Evie strong. Her beginning of the book was fast and filled with mystery.  Her debut the bones of her was pretty good, but this falls short, wayyy short. It needs good editing.
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This is the third of Debbie Howells' books I've read and I was particularly blown away by her first, The Bones of You. I also enjoyed The Beauty of the End, and now the author, based in West Sussex, does it again with her third novel, Part of the Silence.

There's something very engaging about her characters; and her plots generally offer up something a little different. I must confess to being a little disappointed in the ending of this book... though I know that won't surprise regular readers of my reviews who know I'm kinda hard to please.

Very interestingly (I discovered 'after' reading the book) the backcover blurb above, is very much written from Evie's point of view as we spend most of the time in the head of Charlotte, someone who knew Evie (or Jen, as she was known at the time) from school. Howells does dip into the past however, and we meet some of the players a decade or so earlier and I think this gives us a hint of the secrets some of our characters are keeping.

(As usual) Howells offers us some great characters here - particularly in Jen / Evie and Charlotte - they're all pretty complex (and some slightly twisted). Charlotte in particular is a bit of an enigma, with a complex family history and tendency to drink her problems away. There are a few clues here and there and I note I tagged parts of the book with questions like: multiple personality disorder? What / whose artwork? 

The backcover blurb, when combined with some historical context probably points us in the direction of the guilty party but once we really do find out exactly what's happened, I was almost tempted to go back and re-read it just to check that Howells didn't slip up in any way earlier. I can't help but feel there may have been a plot hole or two; or something I missed. But that's just the mystery-loving me who NEEDS to know exactly what happened AND understand the why. I blame it on the Two Minute Mystery books I read as a kid!

As it happened I kinda guessed the who but over-complicated things a little in my own mind (MPD/DID anyone?!). For some reason there was something a little unsatisfactory about the end of this book and I can't really explain why. Perhaps I was disappointed with the 'who' in the whodunnit. Or perhaps I was obsessed with things I'd missed.

Either way (and that aside) I'm enjoying Howells' books and she's been quite consistent with her development of complex and interesting characters and twisty and slightly unusual plots. I look forward to whatever comes next.
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Also reviewed on Goodreads, and will review on Amazon on available date.
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Charlotte Harrison is shocked when a woman in her local town of Cornwall is found badly beaten. Things like that don't typically happen in this quiet town. The beating has left the woman with little memory of who she is or her life: she insists her name is Evie and that her three-year-old daughter, Angel, is missing. But as the investigation continues, the police can find no evidence that Angel even exists. Charlotte recognizes Evie as Jen Russell, a former classmate. She goes to the police and finds herself sucked into the case, as it seems as if Evie has no friends or family able to help. Charlotte and the police know that, as a teen, Jen Russell was babysitting a local girl, three-year-old Leah, when she disappeared and was never found again. Is Jen/Evie simply transposing these memories into that of "Angel"? Or is her daughter really missing? And, if so, is Evie still in danger?

This novel was a page-turner for me, despite a cast of fairly odd and unsympathetic characters, led by Charlotte. She comes across as callous from the beginning--unfeeling, harsh toward her boyfriend, Rick, and getting involved in helping Evie only to show Rick she has a heart. While you feel sorry for Evie, you don't get to know her very well, thanks to her memory loss. The POV also shifts to Jack, who is a police officer, and flashbacks from Leah's older sister, Casey, who hated her perfect little sister and the ruin her disappearance wrought on her family.

The novel is captivating early on as details unfurl slowly about Evie's past. As it continues, the book certainly kept me confused about Evie/Jen's state of mind. Is she simply confused, or did someone truly steal her daughter? It grabs you, for sure, but after a while, you get a little tired of the "poor Jen trapped in her house, wondering what happened to her daughter." Things do move along eventually, though there's never any frantic action. Just a slow, suspenseful buildup to the final reveal.

Some things are a tad frustrating. For instance, Jack doesn't always seem to act like a police officer, and I'm never quite sure of his role or why Howells decided to insert him partway through, though I liked him as a character. And, personally, I'm not sure I would want the police force in Cornwall to assist in any crime related to me -- they seemed a bit inept. Small town police, perhaps?

Still, overall, I enjoyed this one. I was able to figure out bits and pieces, but it kept me guessing and engaged throughout. If you've never read any of Debbie Howells books before (which would be a shame), I'd point you to The Bones of You first. This is still a solid thriller and rates 3.5 - 3.75 stars. I will definitely continue to be eager to read anything Howells writes.
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Evie wakes up from a coma asking for her daughter. She was attacked and doesn’t remember much apart from the fact that she had a little girl. However, nobody else has seen the girl. In addition, Evie’s home is devoid of any proof that a girl ever lived there. Nonetheless, detectives cannot ignore her claims and so they start investigating and looking for the girl. Soon, the case becomes even more complicated when they discover details about Evie’s real identity and life before the attack. It gets more complex when another murder occurs.

The story is told through alternating POVs. Charlotte is the only one who recognizes Evie and so she comes in to help with the investigation. I can’t say much about her without spoiling the book but I kept wondering whether she was genuine or not. Jack is one of the detective working on the case. His character is simply endearing and I enjoyed reading his narrations. I also liked Evie and sympathized with her. She was an unreliable narrator due to her amnesia and sometimes her memories seemed all jumbled up but it was hard not to feel sorry for her. There was another narration that started from the past all the way to the present. This narrator provided details that helped connect the dots especially about the relationships between characters and their backgrounds.

Throughout the book, I had doubts about Evie. How was it possible that she had a daughter that nobody knew about? There was no evidence of the little girl at all. I kept wondering about her attack. I couldn’t wait to find out what her memory would eventually reveal. At the same time, there were other things happening around the story, a second murder and suspicious people all around heightened the tension in the story.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I thought I would. I liked it but I didn’t love it.  I can’t really pinpoint why. Something just didn’t quite fit. I don’t know if it is because some sections felt slower than I would have liked them to be. Perhaps it was because I was able to guess the villain quite early in the book. At the end of the book, I just fell like a connection was missing hence my uncertainty about the book. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the author’s previous book Beauty at the End (which I reviewed here). So I will definitely look out for her next title.
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Told in multiple points of view, Howells writes an interesting dark and psychological novel bringing together characters past and present to tell the story of Jen (Evie) who after a brutal attack remembers a daughter but there's nothing to prove she existed. Follow the twists and turns as Jack, Abbie Rose, Charlotte, Casey, and Evie tell their stories.
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Evie Sherman wakes up in a Cornwall hospital after being severely beaten. Evie doesn't remember anything about the attach or her life, with the exception of her name and her daughter. Authorities are concerned because nobody has seen Evie's daughter. Charlotte Harrison, a high school friend of Evie's, comes forward to help, but it seems she has secrets of her own. Is Evie's daughter in danger or does she even exist?

"Part of the Silence" is by the author "The Bones of You" and "The Beauty of the End". Like those psychological thrillers is told from multiple points of view and flashbacks and is full of red herrings and twists. The theme of the book is loss and many of characters have experienced more than their share. Once I started the book, I didn't want to put it down until I knew the truth about Evie. Although I had my suspicions about one of the characters confirmed, I was still shocked by the final twists. I will leave it at that so I don't spoil any of the suspense, but I was thoroughly entertained by this solid thriller by Debbie Howells.

I received this book from NetGalley, through the courtesy of Kensington. The book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.
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Great suspenseful read! Very intriguing. This was a very quick easy read!
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An atmospheric mystery with excellent and unexpected twists and complex characters. Evie Sherman is found at the verge of death after an attack. She survives, but her memories are hazy. She claims that her daughter Angel is missing but there is zero evidence of a child. The Police believe she is not lying but, considering her condition, maybe she is confused: when she was a teenager, she was babysitting a 3-year old girl who disappeared. Maybe she is confusing both events. But what if she isn't. Charlotte, an acquaintance from Evie's past, seems to be the only person who knows her so she starts getting more and more involved in the case. And here is what I didn't like about this otherwise excellent book: the changes in narrators and points of view. Some are first person accounts and others are in third person. It's a personal pet peeve. Also, one of the characters is lying, so the book is cheating. I can't say any more, but it was a little disappointing. Other than that, the writing is solid and this is an interesting story.
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A woman with amnesia and her three year old missing daughter are at the center of Debbie Howells’ latest mystery, Part of the Silence.

Badly beaten and left for dead in the middle of a maize field, Evie Sherman has very few memories beyond her name and her daughter, Angel. The only problem? Police cannot find any sign of the young girl and when Charlotte Harrison recognizes Evie as Jen Russell, the case becomes even more confusing. Why would Jen change her name to Evie? Why is there no record of Angel? Who attacked Evie and left her for dead? Is there any connection between Angel’s disappearance and the still unsolved case of another 3 year old girl who went missing fifteen years ago? Local police have very few leads but DC Abbie Rose and DI Jack Bentley are working hard to find answers to these very perplexing questions.

Charlotte is dealing with her own issues when she recognizes Evie as her old classmate Jen. Feeling obligated to contact the police with this information, she very reluctantly agrees to DC Abbie Rose’s requests to keep the very disoriented victim company while the police try to uncover information about Evie. Charlotte is quite compassionate and caring during her visits with Evie and she continues to stay by her side during her recovery. While everyone else doubts that Evie’s daughter Angel exists, Charlotte remains extremely supportive and always believes Evie is telling the truth.

About midway through the investigation, DI Jack Bentley returns from holiday and he becomes involved in the case.  He is extremely compassionate during his interactions with Evie and unlike his fellow detectives, he completely believes her story about her missing daughter. Jack is certain there is a link between the fifteen year old cold case and Angel’s disappearance but will he find the connection? Another body is discovered on the same property where Evie was attacked but does this murder have anything to do with her case?

Interspersed with the unfolding events in the present are flashbacks from Casey Danning, whose sister is the girl who vanished fifteen years earlier. These passages offer an unsettling portrait of a very troubled teenager who eventually matures into a rather disturbed woman.  These contemplative entries become somewhat dark and twisted with Casey leaving a swath of destruction in her wake. Where exactly Casey fits into the current situation is unknown but her narration is quite chilling.

While Part of the Silence is rather atmospheric, the pacing is bit slow for the first half of the novel. The premise is certainly intriguing and Evie is a compelling, if somewhat unreliable, character. The storyline is engaging but it takes a while for the various story arcs to come together. Although astute readers will most likely figure out the major plot twist fairly early this does not lessen the overall enjoyment of the novel. Debbie Howells brings the novel to an abrupt yet satisfying conclusion.
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I really wanted to love this psychological thriller, but it was rather messy and just fell flat.

Jen “Evie” Russell is found badly beaten in a field in Cornwall. Jen made the news 15 years ago when three year old Leah Danning went missing while she was babysitting. When Jen wakes up in the hospital, she has no recollection of the past. All that she can remember is that young daughter, Angel, but there is no sign that Angel ever existed. Jen’s inability to remember the past makes those around her question her sanity. Did Angel exist or is Jen confusing Leah’s disappearance with her imaginary daughter? All events lead back to Leah, whose disappearance was never resolved.

The narrative switches between the POV’s of Charlotte Harrison, an old high school acquaintance, and Jack Bentley, a police officer who recently lost his son. Charlotte is cold and clearly hiding something, whereas Jack is one of the few people who believes Jen. The reader also gets Casey, Leah’s sister’s, perspective. 

Unfortunately, I had a lot of issues with Part of the Silence. Having read The Bones of You and The Beauty of the End, I had high expectations for Part of the Silence. One thing that really threw me off was Jack doesn’t make an appearance until well into the narrative, switching to his POV was rather jarring. In addition to the pacing being uneven, there were many plot holes that left me with a lot of questions. Adding to the problem was that the police officers didn’t feel like they had every worked a case before--their investigative skills were seriously lacking. Honestly, I think that I could have solved a big chunk of the mystery using Google! And that ending?!

Overall, I like the idea of this book, but what I read just didn’t work for me.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to prevew Part of Silence by Debbie Howells.  
A woman, Evie, is found beaten and left for dead - she has no recollection of what happened to her..  She begins to remember some things - and one that is most important to her - her daughter.  The only problem - her daughter does not exist according to the police.  Evie feels reality escaping from her and most people including the police believe she is losing her mind.  But Evie hears her daughter's voice and another that tells her to "trust no one".
This is a dark book and it is well written. Good one for a rainy day.
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