Mari Hannah is best known for her series of crime novels featuring DCI Kate Daniels, set against the sometimes beautiful, sometimes gritty, backdrop of the North East of England. Kate Daniels and her sidekick DS Hank Gormley are a winning combination and are responsible for Hannah’s growing base of dedicated fans.
So what does a successful crime writer do when she hits on a brilliant idea that doesn’t quite ‘fit’ into her existing creative mould? Any writer wThe Silent Room.
Long-serving and well-respected Special Branch Officer Jack Fenwick is arrested; he is in disgrace, his reputation in tatters. Those who have known him and worked with him for years know he is innocent of the charges against him, but when the van transportinorth their salt grabs that idea and hits the ground running, which is exactly what Hannah has done with g Fenwick to prison is hijacked en-route, it looks suspiciously like he has played a part in his own escape.
Determined to prove Fenwick’s innocence, old friend and colleague DS Matthew Ryan teams up with Grace Ellis, recently retired from the Force, and they begin an investigation of their own. When Ryan is suspended from duty under suspicion of aiding and abetting Fenwick, he is more determined than ever to find those responsible for fitting-up his friend.
What follows is a tense race against time as Ryan and Ellis try to identify and track down Fenwick’s hijackers before Fenwick comes to harm. They soon realise that they are on to something much, much bigger than they had ever imagined. As they begin to uncover conspiracy and corruption dating back many years, they realise that Fenwick is not the only one whose life is in danger.
Remaining true to her roots, Hannah has set The Silent Room in the North East and makes full use of the drama that this landscape can unleash. The pace is, at times, as breathtaking as the scenery that frames it and the suspense builds steadily right up to the final few pages. There are some neat twists and turns along the way that will confound your expectations and force you to re-think what you already know.
The Silent Room is an accomplished psychological thriller that deals with both the strengths and the limitations of ‘official’ police work. Matthew Ryan and Grace Ellis make a great team and I hope they find their way into another of Hannah’s books in the future. A cracking good read for a long, dark winter evening.
The Silent Room will be published by Pan Macmillan on November 19th