I have been waiting for this day! I am very excited to share both an extract and my review of Silent Victim by the brilliantly talented Caroline Mitchell!
This unbiased review is my thank you to the publisher and to Charlotte Cooper for inviting me to be part of this tour!
Title: Silent Victim
Author: Caroline Mitchell
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Date of publication: 1st March 2018
Format: Digital Review Copy
Emma has it all. A beautiful son, a loving husband and a dream job. Life only seem to get better when her husband, Alex, is offered a promotion and plans to move his young family to a new home. But Emma has a terrifying secret. In her back garden lies the body of a school teacher who seduced her as a teenager and Emma is responsible for it being there. Knowing she cannot leave without disposing of the body, Emma returns to original place to rid herself of it once and for, only to discovers it gone. Panic and terror lead to a confession of the crime to her husband, who promises to stand by her no matter what.
But Emma’s revelation shakes them to the core. As the idyllic life they once led becomes unhinged, soon both find themselves tangled in a web of deceit and as a chain reaction of events take place, their perfect existence begins to implode. Splitting the story between three voices, Caroline draws on her police officer experience to present the complex and blurred lines between victim and predator, innocence and guilt, and deceit and protection.
Spikes of rain hammered my car windscreen, making me curse the inclement weather. It felt like a lifetime since I had enjoyed the sun on my face. It would have been better to stay at home and talk things through with Alex, but Josh had been unable to cover my shift at work. Not that I expected customers in this weather. For once, my diary was free of appointments, and I was very tempted to tell Theresa to shut the shop for the afternoon. But I had forced myself out of the house just the same. Besides, it was bring your teddy to school day today, and Jamie could not wait to participate in the indoor picnic they had planned for lunch. I was all too aware that I was running late as the clock on the car’s dashboard showed 11 a.m. By the time I got the buggy out of the boot and put Jamie in, he would be soaked. I pulled up the handbrake and turned round to face my son. ‘I’m just going to get a parking ticket from the machine. It’s just over there,’ I pointed. You stay here in the warm, and I’ll be back in a second.’
Jamie nodded, staring out at the rain. I rooted through the glove compartment for change. Like many family cars, the space was stuffed with a half-eaten packet of sweets, wet wipes, receipts and old coins. Taking the keys from the ignition, I shoved them in my pocket before pulling out my red umbrella and opening it through the crack in the door. ‘Back in one second,’ I said once again. ‘You can watch.’
Like a meerkat, Jamie’s head bobbed as he tried to get a clear view of outside. ‘But I can’t see, Mummy,’ he said, straining against his straps towards the breath-fogged pane.
Turning back in my seat, I clicked the button of his seat belt, allowing him enough freedom to watch me get the ticket. ‘I’m going to lock the car, OK? You stay inside and watch Mummy. I won’t be a second.’
Hunching my shoulders, I pulled my collar up and faced the rain. It pattered hard against the thin fabric of my umbrella, and I activated the car’s central locking system before tottering through the puddles towards the ticket machine. I had the sense to wear trousers today, my billowing blouse kept dry beneath my long fleece coat. I rifled through my change, depositing it into the machine. I was just about to turn round when the sudden screech of car tyres filled the air, chilling me to the marrow of my bones. Time seemed to stop in that second and I was snapped back into reality as I heard a child’s cry. Jamie. My child.
‘No! No, no,’ the syllables fired from my mouth as my umbrella fell to the ground. My eyes flitted from my car door that was wide open and the 4 × 4 parked awkwardly nearby. I sprinted towards it, my eyes fixed on the small hand jutting out on the concrete, and the teddy bear thrown to one side.
‘Oh my God!’ The driver’s screams filled the air as she scrambled out of her Range Rover, almost tumbling over herself in her haste to reach my son.
Can you believe Silent Victim is my Caroline Mitchell book?
This book covers such a wide array of subjects that I have no idea where to start!
What did I like?
Emma. Right away. Unconditionally. I found myself feeling overprotective. The beginning of the story is so strong that the change in point of view had me on her side rather than Alex’s, her husband. Well, yes, I have issues with husbands, and I did find him a little too pushy in his ways to make his wife agree with his plans. But as the story unfolded, I understood him better. Actually, Emma and Alex are fascinating to follow as a couple. We all have issues with our other half, but with Emma’s mental issues sending her, and as a result, her family, into a tailspin, I got to ponder and reflect about how those issues affect the people close to us and get mixed with every other issue couples can face. When I reached the end, I had no doubts about both characters’ feelings and motivations, and looking back at the start of Silent Victim, I realized Alex also fit into the category of silent victim in a way. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a boring lesson about how everyone suffers from mental issues whether they are the patient or a caring relative. It is about dealing with it on a daily basis, living with someone every single day and loving them no matter what. It is also about how much one can take, and how we can find strength when we think we don’t have any left.
Trust? Does it come naturally with family? Can you take it for granted? When everything tumbles down, who should you believe? I love those questions and just how simply, beautifully, and honestly the author tries to answer them. No one is either black or white.
Now I am making the book sound slow-paced and character-driven.
Silent Victim is everything but slow-paced! I felt like running for my life during the single afternoon it took me to read the story. On top of Emma’s issues, Alex’s wishes, and their current situations, demons from the past are lurking around, making waves and threatening the tranquility of this little family.
“As the saying goes… the past is a nice place to visit but not a good place to stay.”
But Silent Victim IS character-driven! It is their actions, either not done or actually completed, which spurs the story forward in every chapter, it is their thoughts that feed the tension slowly growing in their world and our mind. Silent Victim rings true, close to home, and chillingly real.
If books have taught me a lesson, it is that secrets should not be buried, or they come back to bite you! And Emma’s secret has long, vampire-like teeth! Still, the most frightening of them all was her inner demons, and I felt for her so strongly I felt I left a part of myself between the pages.
“Emma’s suffered from anxiety all her life. It’s like this tireless voice in her head, always judging, always pointing out her flaws. You need to be louder than the voice.”
Unreliable characters are often used in thrillers to spice things up, and it is torture to watch a protagonist you care for go through hell and back for your own reading pleasure! I felt guilty, but the reading was too good to stop! Caroline Mitchell’s intense and authentic writing puts the reader at the heart of the story and manages to mix the cards so well you start questioning yourself, too. I hated seeing Emma being reduced to the “mad one” because of her struggles, and I hated the judgment, but it was introduced in such a natural way that it felt right. I am not saying it is right, but Caroline Mitchell knows her subject and the dialogues and thoughts of those surrounding her main character only mirror the ones you can hear in every family, in hospital corridors, behind closed doors. Prepare to lose your sanity and start looking over your shoulder!
Did I find out who had done what and why? Yes, and no! I had some answers and was begging for the rest of the picture!
Silent Victim delivers more than enough through bits and pieces for a serial-reader to play while bringing such a vivid and sordid story to life in a way that makes it unputdownable!
The book is now available! Get it here! And check the rest of the blog tour!
A former police detective, Caroline Mitchell uses her in-depth knowledge of police procedures to create complex and suspenseful psychological thrillers. Caroline worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with the vulnerable victims of domestic abuse and serious sexual offences. The mental strength shown by the victims of these crimes was a constant source of inspiration. A working mother of four, Caroline started writing due to the stress of dealing with such serious incidents and a way of processing the horrific crimes she witnessed. After self-publishing her first novel, Caroline became committed to pursuing writing as a profession and has never looked back, publishing 10 books in 3 years, and she now writes full time.