Saturday, November 07, 2020

Despite Deaf Community Setting, Mystery Series Opener Lacks Originality

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

There's nothing more disturbing than the murder of a child, especially when it occurs in their home with family members asleep nearby.  That's exactly what happens to 18-month old Lexie Hunter—she's brutally attacked in her bed, killed while two of her siblings slumber in the room with her.  How did no one hear a thing?  Simple—everyone in the household is deaf.  

As the only hearing person in a deaf family, Paige Northwood grew up "speaking" British Sign Language (BSL).  The 30-year-old now works as a BSL interpreter, aiding the police and other entities when they need help communicating with people in the deaf community.  When Lexie's death is discovered, the police call on Paige to interpret for the Hunter Family.  Although she recognizes the parents' confusion and grief, she also suspects they know more than they're letting on.  What really happened to little Lexie?  Paige is determined to find out, even if it means angering the police and putting herself at risk.  She won't rest until the toddler's killer is brought to justice, even if it means she is the next victim found dead in her bed.

The minute I read the plot summary for The Silent House, a debut novel by Nell Pattison, I was intrigued.  Its premise is simple but chilling.  I was all in for a compelling murder mystery with a unique deaf community setting, especially since it's written by a long-time BSL teacher who is partly deaf herself.  Unfortunately, despite its original twist, there's nothing super memorable about The Silent House.  The characters—including our heroine—are not particularly sympathetic or likable.  Paige is not very convincing, not as a 30-year-old (she's like an old lady) and not as a seasoned interpreter (her actions throughout the story are often illogical, unprofessional, and far-fetched).  She's also cold and whiny, which makes her a difficult character to connect with.  Add in clunky prose, a plodding start, and a killer who's obvious from the get go, and you're left with a story that's just not all that engrossing or satisfying.  As much as I love the idea of a mystery series set in the deaf community, The Silent House just didn't satisfy enough to entice me to read more.  Bummer.    

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't really think  of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of The Silent House from the generous folks at HarperCollins via those at NetGalley.  Thank you!

3 comments:

  1. What a shame this was unsuccessful, the premise is great,
    There is a series by Emma Viscik which features a deaf security consultant/private investigator which is excellent

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  2. That's too bad. I really liked the idea of this one, too. But I think Paige would drive me crazy.

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  3. Every parent's nightmare is to have their child taken. Too bad this didn't pan out.

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