Cover Image: Remain Silent

Remain Silent

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Susie Steiner’s third Manon Bradshaw mystery is set in an England bloated by bigotry, pettiness, and violence against migrant workers. It’s a Brexit-world we’re in. Her protagonist? DI Manon Bradshaw of the Cambridgeshire police, more irreverently acerbic than ever. In book #1, Missing Presumed, Manon was a copper with a deep belief in her ability to solve a crime and bring justice to whom it’s due; in book #2, Persons Unknown, Manon is pregnant, sidelined, and drawn into a case because it involves family; in book #3, copper Manon is back, not by will, want, or ambition; she’s assigned to the possible murder of an illegal Lithuanian migrant worker (conditions akin to slavery, really, as Manon notes). That sense of completion, if not vindication, or justice, is nebulous at best and, by the end, we leave a Manon disheartened with policing. At the same time, of Steiner’s three Manon mysteries, Remain Silent is the funniest, tipping to black comedy, thanks to Manon’s dark humour, which I LOVED.

The blurb will supply some plottish detail for us:

Newly married and navigating life with a toddler as well as her adopted adolescent son, Manon Bradshaw is happy to be working part-time in the cold cases department of the Cambridgeshire police force, a job which allows her to “potter in, coffee in hand and log on for a spot of internet shopping–precisely what she had in mind when she thought of work-life balance.” But beneath the surface Manon is struggling with the day-to-day realities of what she assumed would be domestic bliss: fights about whose turn it is to clean the kitchen, the bewildering fatigue of having a young child in her forties, and the fact that she is going to couple’s counseling alone because her husband feels it would just be her complaining. But when Manon is on a walk with her two-year-old son in a peaceful suburban neighborhood and discovers the body of a Lithuanian immigrant hanging from a tree with a mysterious note attached, she knows her life is about to change. Suddenly, she is back on the job, full-force, trying to solve the suicide–or is it a murder–in what may be the most dangerous and demanding case of her life.

If Missing, Presumed was Manon the professional and England clinging to a class society, then Persons Unknown saw Manon as emotional mess and seedy-Coronation-Street England revealed, seams bursting with the nasty inside. Remain Silent is Manon’s Swiftian anger at an England where migrant boatloads may not beset its shores, but trucks enter from the Continent to fill its unwanted jobs. It’s ugly and battered. In Manon’s investigation, great to see her teamed up with Davy again, we glimpse the indentured conditions of Eastern European migrant workers, at home through a series of flashbacks and as lives disintegrate in slave conditions in a land that resents even while it exploits them. If not for Manon’s scathingly satirical social commentary, I don’t know if I could have borne reading about their lives. But Manon’s voice, even more than the first two books, carries this along with black humour and the underlying decency of a curmudgeon who still wants to indict cruelty and exploitation.

In UKIP-and-Brexit-bred England , secondary characters are rendered with Boschian strokes. A case in point? Davy’s thoughts when Manon calls him in after discovering the hanged man: “They cannot cut him down until the scene photographer has got everything. And SOCO. They’ve cordoned a wide area — don’t want members of the public rubbernecking the gray face or the snapped neck. And they would. They’d form a crowd, just like they did in medieval times at public executions. The public can’t get enough of death in Davy’s experience.” This sets the novel’s ethos as the narrative moves from Davy’s inherent kindness to Manon’s social anger.

Even children are Boschian entities, here’s Manon helping her friend Harriet organize a birthday party for one of her kids: ” ‘Don’t want a pink one,’ he says. ‘I only want a green one.’ ‘There isn’t a green one,’ Manon says. ‘Only this one.’ ‘I only want a green one,’ he insists, with intense eye contact, and it strikes her that if women could only employ this level  of intransigence, their pay negotiations would go much better. She squats down so she’s level with the child. ‘Thing is,’ she says, casting a look around her and seeing Mark eyeing her nervously, ‘this is a Join in the Fun Party. It is not a Gross Sense of Entitlement party.’ She senses Mark lifting her by the elbow, bulging his eyes at her, and saying, ‘Can’t you dial it down a bit?’ ‘What?’ she says. ‘He’s seven,’ Mark says nodding at the child. ‘You’re never too young to learn manners.’ ” I guffawed. I’ve navigated too many privileged princesses and lordly-lords of five, six, seven, or sixteen at the day job not to have muttered the very same. Like most curmudgeons, Manon is a blunt, brilliant truth-teller.

Steiner’s Manon is one of the strongest voices I’ve read in crime fiction, whether she’s ruminating on her middle-aged body, being a parent (a combination of bottomless love and, as Manon puts it, “trudge), inequality, injustice, exploitation, or the more personal losses, disappointment, disillusion. Nevertheless, there is a buoyancy to Manon, a clear-thinking, seeing through to the heart of the matter understanding of the world and people around her that makes her come alive for and stay with the reader. Manon’s voice and her view of a fallen England (not quite “Satanic mills”, but not a “green and pleasant land” either; one where “blood [still] runs down Palace walls” and the “Harlot’s curse” is heard) resonates even when the details of the murder fade from memory.

A word also about Davy and how wonderfully he serves as Manon’s counterpoint. He is a good man, ethical, caring, dedicated. Steiner has shown his growth over the three novels and, in this one, he now serves to shed a light on Manon’s flaws. Manon, overeating, blunt-spoken, harsh Manon, can be self-absorbed, is so enamoured of her own “f— it” inner world she can fail to notice the people and circumstances ’round her. She’s appetitive: hankering after food, drink, and men (there’s a hilarious moment involving a youthful Martin Shaw lookalike). I LOVE her because she’s smart, funny, sharp, an incisive no-BS social critic, but it’s Davy who provides the counterpoint and serves to distance us from falling too much in love with Manon. Manon remains a hoot, though, and, as a result, Steiner produces one of the funniest, strangest, most absurd dénouement lines I’ve read in a murder mystery: ” ‘I was one cheese topping away from death,’ Manon tells Davy, as if this is the primary takeaway from the whole sorry saga.” Davy sees into the tragedy of the events they investigate; Manon’s grown a thick skin if only to protect the soft heart we know beats beneath the jadedness.

Steiner has written three remarkable novels with her Manon. I was sad reading the author’s acknowledgments telling us of a terrible illness. I don’t know if we’ll see where Manon et. al. go next, but whether we have another Manon or not isn’t an iota as important as Steiner’s recovery. I wish her well and urge you, dear readers, to treat yourself to three of the best murder mysteries I’ve read in years. With Miss Austen’s nodding agreement, we say Remain Silent is evidence “there is no charm equal to tenderness of heart,” Emma.

Susie Steiner’s Remain Silent is published by Random House. It was released in June 2020 and may be found at your preferred vendor. I received an e-arc, from Random House, via Netgalley, for the purpose of writing this review.
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I cannot express enough love for Susie Steiner or this series, and this is the first book in which I was just as involved with the protagonist and investigator as I was with the mystery itself.  Susie Steiner never disappoints.  She's delightful through and through, and I am a mega fan.  I loved this book, the complex ways Steiner examines some really tough issues in society and never giving up or letting anyone off easy in this book that has so many layers and is also so compulsively and excellently readable.  I don't know if this is my favorite book in the series or not, as they're all in the race and competition, and so close together in my mind.  But either way, I love this book with an intensity and would recommend it to anyone. Read the books in order for maximum enjoyment.
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I LOVE Manon Bradshaw, and this installment was no different.  Such a likable character, and her cases are always so interesting.  I love the side stories about her personal life as well.  Such a fun read!
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This book is great! Would definitely recommend. Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.
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First, I have to say that I loved Steiner's previous Manon Russell books--Missing, Presumed and Persons Unknown.--that's why I requested an advance copy of Remain Silent.    Bradshaw, a  Cambridgeshire England police force officer, discovers the body of a young man hanging from a tree in a park.  Is  it murder or suicide?  During the ongoing investigation, other bodies turn up in sad circumstances.  The grim story, told in flashbacks, of what leads to the tragic Lithuanian migrant worker deaths meanders way too slowly.  The dark humor that so attracted me to the first two books is mostly missing.   Manon Bradshaw is a fabulous character, but she doesn't really shine until the last part of the book.  This one wasn't for me, but it won't stop me from recommending this solid crime series to readers!  .
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This book was already archived before I could download it and read it, but thank you for the opportunity.
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For some unknown reason, this book had been languishing in my to-be-read queue.  I'm sorry that I waited so long to dive it,  because I was hooked immediately.  Manon Bradshaw is a grouchy and impulsive, but also loyal and dogged, characteristics that make her a good detective.  Above all, Manon is human, and watching her deal with work, her partner, her kids, and life in general make for a compelling read.  Above all, I hope that Susie Steiner recovers from her cancer!

Thanks to Random House Publishing for access to a digital ARC via NetGalley.
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Manon Bradshaw is a character that I really loved in the first two books in the series. While there were still glimpses of her personality I love so much (“I put the no in innovation”) - this story fell flat. I was disappointed by the resolution of the main case. From the ending, it sounded like this may be the final Manon Bradshaw book - and while I would have been sad, now it seems like maybe this is time for the series to end. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance reading copy.
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Manon Bradshaw is mother to a teenager and a toddler, relatively newly married, and an active member, part time, of the Cambridgeshire Police Force. Her life is hectic and she is rethinking her place in the world when suddenly she is taken away from her niche in cold cases and dropped into a new, developing case involving the death of an immigrant found hanging in a tree. Was he a suicide or was he murdered, that is the major question. Second to that, what is the situation with the Lithuanian migrants all over the district who seem to be increasing in number and inciting the anti-immigrant part of the local population to demonstrations.

This is the third of Steiner’s series about Manon and continues her development as mother and policewoman. She is a fully human woman, something I respect and enjoy. She lives an occasionally messy life, as most of us do, questioning herself and others. As she approaches middle age, she finds herself asking harder questions.

The case goes in several directions and reflects current social situations in the world. Manon and erstwhile partner Davey follow. Home life both intrudes and suffers. It is real life being portrayed.

I recommend all three books in this series but I found this book, Remain Silent, especially good and rewarding. It is not only a procedural, it is a portrait of a cop whose emotions are raw and brain is always working.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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I was looking forward to this one and a cold case investigation, but it was a little bit of a let down as it went a different direction.  The storyline was dark and sad and I had a lot of difficulty getting into this one.
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When I received the ARC for this book from Netgalley, I didn’t know it was the third in a series. That did not detract from how much I enjoyed the story. I have definitely got to play catch up. 

Detective Manon has a nice cushy job in cold cases where she only works three days a week and gets time off to be with her young son. In the park with her little boy, she finds a body hangin in a tree. 

Her boss (the many nicknames for whom are hilarious in their own right) makes her the SIO of the investigation because they are short a lead detective at the moment.  Although this will mess up her schedule, she is intrigued and happy to be in the investigation. 

The victim is an Eastern European. This leads them to a group from Lithuania living under appalling conditions as forced labor for a sadistic handler.  Manon and Davy are shocked to see filth when they enter the house. 

The story grimly deals with the local xenophobia as well as the desperate conditions of the immigrants.  It is not light reading at all. 

However, Manon is so quick, snarky, and relatable you have to love her. Her character will definitely bring me back to this series. The bollocking she gives to a man cheating on his wife made me laugh out loud (and scared the hell out of him). 

Thank you for the chance to review this book and for introducing me to a new favorite character.
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I loved this book. Loved the plot and the characters. Figuring out who did it is my favorite part of the book and the author told it so well that I couldn't figure out who did it until the end. Well done. Pick it up and check it out. Doesn't disappoint. Happy reading!
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Manon Bradshaw is an interesting detective. A mom with  preschooler  and  an adopted teenager finds herself back working fulltime when she discovers an immigrant who has been hanged.  She appears to be a super worman. Great story and I'm saddened to hear that Susie Steiner has been diagnosed with advanced brain cancer.  She created a great protagonist for the series.
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When requested, I had no idea this was part of a series already. Since there's different storylines I didn't find that it was hard to follow but maybe there is less character background? I enjoyed this and thought it was very dark and unsettling. This is a take on modern day racism that is still continuing today. Thank you netgalley and to the publisher!
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I scooped this up right away when I saw that Manon Bradshaw was back. I read a lot of detective fiction, and Susie Steiner is one of my favorites. Remain Silent finds Manon overwhelmed with a demanding toddler, her older son Fly who is breaking her heart with the simple act of growing up, and her husband who is suddenly diagnosed with cancer. Manon is facing her midlife with decidedly mixed feelings. She can look at her relationship with her husband and appreciate it as one would a 'scratchy old towel' - dependable and absorbent of her faults. The crime her team is investigating is horrific and timely. An immigrant is found hanging from a tree, meant to look like a suicide, but the note in his hand suggests otherwise. He is one of many victims of an exploitative agricultural crime ring. Steiner's writing is so frank and hilarious. Writing about Manon's ambitious boss, "...McBain would go to the opening of an envelope if she thought it would 'raise her profile'." She expertly handles her best friend's cheating husband, convincing him to stick with his own scratchy old towel before throwing it in (ha) for a fluffier one. Even small children are not immune from her dry wit. A child who doesn't receive the toy he wants at a party is told that "...this is a Join in the Fun Party. It is not a Gross Sense of Entitlement Party." Who among us hasn't wanted to say that?

I am grateful to NetGalley and Random House for the chance to read an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. That Susie Steiner was able to complete this book despite her illness is extraordinary, and I'm glad she has recovered from her illness.
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It has been my absolute JOY this week to read the third novel in the Manon Bradshaw series. And, no surprise, it was just as wonderful – if not more so!
“Remain Silent” will, without a doubt, be included in my favorites list for 2020. And Manon Bradshaw? Well, she may very well be my favourite character, EVER!

Manon Bradshaw, a Detective Inspector with the Cambridgeshire Police, is now forty-six years old. She shares a house with her adopted son, Fly, her common-law husband Mark Talbot, and her their four year-old son, Teddy.

Manon is content working on cold cases three days a week since she came off maternity leave.

Davy Walker, once Manon’s sergeant, now equals her in rank. Davy is engaged to be married – a status he is not sure he is completely comfortable with.

Manon and Davy have a wonderful rapport and mutual respect.

When Manon and Teddy discover an immigrant hanging from a tree in a local park, the apparent suicide leads Manon down a path that sheds light on the unethical treatment of Lithuanian migrant workers, men who came to the UK for a better life, but are instead treated abominably, with disgusting living conditions, debt bonding, and emotional and physical abuse of all kinds.

The author creates a personal story around these workers which makes their plight all the more impactful.

“Most nightmares end if you only give them time.
This too will pass was a good enough motto to live by.”

The police case involves migrant workers.  Although the case was compelling, for me it was by far overshadowed by the wonderful characters in this novel.  Manon is a brilliant policewoman trying to attain the always illusive home/work balance. She loves her children like a fierce ‘Mamma Bear’.  Fly is a wonderful boy who at age sixteen is facing his GCSEs and is an excellent big brother for Teddy.

What I love about Steiner’s novels is that she creates the perfect balance between the case in hand and Manon’s personal life.  The case this time highlights the abhorrent treatment of Lithuanian migrant workers in the United Kingdom.  A very real problem that ‘Operation Pheasant‘ is trying to address.

On the personal side, Manon is struggling with parenting, middle age, police budget cuts and most importantly a cancer diagnosis for her partner Mark. She adores the people in her life and her humour filled relationship with her best friend Bri is a joy to read.

This novel is about normal people just trying to get by in a world that often feels adversarial.   It is about parenting, and the love of family in all its permutations. A skillfully written novel that contains empathy, pathos, and humour. In short, I loved this book. I’m already yearning for another glimpse into Manon’s world.

I wish everyone could read this fantastic series. Highly, highly recommended!
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The spark has faded a bit for me with the third installment of the Manon Bradshaw series. It's been a while since I've read the first two, but I recall gobbling them up, chuckling at the witticisms, and feeling really immersed in Manon's world. This time, I had a hard time sinking in, and while I plowed through, it was lacking a certain something. I can't quite name it, but looking back I gave the other two novels five stars and this didn't feel quite up to that level. The grimness of the various plots didn't help much either (modern-day slave trade, cancer, cheating spouses, mid-life doldrums). Judging by the author's endnote this may well be the last Manon novel, in which case you should still read it and say your goodbyes. Here's hoping that Steiner had many more stories left in her.
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“Bigots have feelings too.”

Remain Silent is a timely and depressing police procedural about the murder of an immigrant and the growing racial and xenophobic tensions in post-Brexit England. 

This is book #3 in the Manon Bradshaw series. While this book can be read as a standalone, I think the reader won’t fully appreciate Manon’s character if they skip the first two books in this series.

When a Lithuanian immigrant is found hanging from a tree, suicide is believed to be the cause of death, but when a closer look is taken, it appears that the victim might have been murdered. DS Manon Bradshaw and her partner are pulled into the investigation, bringing them into contact with a group of desperate and displaced people struggling to survive: 
“People searching for a better life are despised for wanting it when native strivers are admired. What’s the name for this?”

At the same time, Manon’s personal life is a bit of a mess. But isn’t it always? Struggling to balance her career with motherhood, with aging and relationship problems with her partner, Mark, Manon is in a shambles. 

Split between Manon, Davy, and one of the Lithuanian immigrants, Steiner explores growing tensions and divides over immigration.

This book is not easy to read. The topics of xenophobia and racism were only too real and timely. There are no happy endings in this story. On top of it all, Steiner’s Author’s note brought me to tears. 

However, Mannon’s witticisms made this book bearable to read! I love her snarky brain and the way she thinks. 

Below are just a few of my favorite gems from Manon (and one from Mark):

“I hate positive thinking. Just a way of bullying people, making them feel bad stuff is their fault.”

“Still, it’s nice to be on the road with you, visiting some racists.”

“Ignorance is the new black. All you need right now is some knee-jerk reactions and a Twitter feed. All you need is to ‘feel you’re right.’”

“Truly stupid people are too stupid to realize they are stupid.” 

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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White supremacists live everywhere—not just the US—as an immigrant exploitation ring is embroiled in a murder case in northeast England. How can Officer Manon Bradshaw deal with all that while also fighting the middle-age doldrums? Remain Silent tells the story of Lithuanian refugees that are used as cheap labor in a chicken farm.

This book deals with important issues. However, I just never got into it and had to force myself to read to the end. It may have been because I hadn’t read the two previous books in the series. I wasn’t connected to the characters. The whole plot both with the case and with Manon and her partner Davy’s home life seemed a bit too depressing to me. Despite those complaints, I liked the twists at the end. 3 stars for Remain Silent.

Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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The torture and brutality by the characters in this book made it hard for me to read.  The writing was ok - but didn't capture me as much as Steiner's earlier books.  There seemed to be a lot of repetition, especially with the continual 'thoughts' of the main character.  It was just an 'ok' book for me.
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