Title: The Silent House
Author: Nell Pattison
Publisher: Avon Books
Date of release: 5 March 2020
Number of pages: 400
Format reviewed: Advance copy
If someone was in your house, you’d know.
But the Hunter family are deaf, and don’t hear a thing when a shocking crime takes place in the middle of the night. Instead, they wake up to their worst nightmare.
The police call Paige Northwood to the scene to interpret for the witnesses. They’re in shock, but Paige senses the Hunters are hiding something.
One by one, people Paige knows from the Deaf community start to fall under suspicion. But who would kill a little girl?
Was it an intruder?
Or was the murderer closer to home?
A murder in a silent house. I didn’t need more to have my attention seized and my mouth salivating. What makes this novel even more special is the involvement of the deaf community of Scunthorpe, England. I was curious to discover how the author would integrate this part into the plot…
I want to applaud Nell Pattison for building a crime novel around the deaf community. Usually, when something is out of the ordinary, we firmly stay on our side of the world and look into the side others are living in. Here, I felt I was an outsider looking in, in a really good way. Paige Northwood is a British Sign Language interpreter. She grew up the only hearing member of a family, and ended up using her ability to communicate to work freelance with people needed to be understood by so many people non fluent in BSL.
This time, Page gets a call that will rock her world, or should I say worlds. A little girl has been killed in a house in which the rest of her family was sleeping. How is it possible? The Hunter family are deaf. I was stricken by the force with which a wave of unfairness washed over me right from the start. How could someone do something like this? Then I thought twice. People get killed every day, why was I more shocked because the killer had taken advantage of the family situation? Later, my brain fought to process what I thought was ‘normal’ and what made the case different.
Am I making sense? I don’t know. To be frank, when a book really makes me think, my brain turns mushy!!!
So yes, deafness is part of the novel. The author highlights the difficulties encountered by hearing-impaired people and I found myself thinking of all those little things we take for granted. It reminded me why I volunteered with a charity helping the visually impaired community in Bordeaux, and why I had begun to learn the British Sign Language a few months ago. Nell Pattison doesn’t turn her novel into a call for change, she simply underlines what life looks like and if I had doubts about how to integrate the British Sign Language on paper, she does is so smoothly that the book reads effortlessly, leaving all the room for the drama and the investigation.
Because there’s a lot of both! Remember a small child is dead, and the police case is made more difficult by their inability to conduct their inquiries the way they usually do. Thanks to Paige, we get to meet many protagonists, hearing and deaf, and the list of suspects grows by the page! There is no apparent motive for the killing, the family are tearing each other to pieces, and no one looks as white as a dove. I really enjoyed standing on the edge of the investigation with Paige, having to deal with the police, the family, the questioning, being part of it without really belonging… Until things got personal!
Paige is a great character and it was interesting to get to know her. Her past has rendered her vulnerable to some circumstances and it plays a part in the horrendous search for little Lexi’s murdered.
One foot in the hearing world, the other navigating the deaf one, I felt a creeping tension wrap itself around my neck as the more Paige got herself tangled up in the case, the closer danger got.
The Silent House is a clever mystery that reminded me no one is really different and that love, hate, jealousy, and so many other motives don’t discriminate and hit everyone.
You can find the book here (ps, the ebook is only 99p at the moment!)
I would like to thank Avon Books for inviting me to read and review this novel. This is my unbiased opinion.