Silent Scream comes from the pen of new writer Angela Marsons who has set this powerful and extraordinarily accomplished page-turner in the atmospheric towns and countryside of her own home territory, England’s Black Country.
In a story brimming with action, pace, mystery and spine-tingling tension, the undoubted star is the delectable DI Kim Stone, an abrasive, straight-talking, gutsy young super-sleuth whose tough exterior hides a touching and seductive vulnerability.
In the first of what promises to be an exciting new series, Kim is forced to revisit painful memories from her own troubled youth as she and her team hunt down a ruthless assassin whose killing spree spans decades and leads back to dark events at a former children’s home.
In the winter of 2004, five figures gather round a shallow grave in the countryside after all silently taking turns to dig into the frozen ground. An innocent life has been taken but a pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood and never revealed.
Ten years later, Teresa Wyatt, the highly respected principal of a private boys’ school, is found brutally murdered in the bath at her home where she lived alone. The killer had deliberately set fire to trees in the garden to alert police to the body in the house.
It’s a mystery that will test the brains and acumen of DI Kim Stone and her team from the West Midlands Police murder squad and is just the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the local residents.
But when enquiries lead to Crestwood, a now demolished children’s home, and human remains are discovered at the site, some disturbing secrets are also unearthed and DI Stone quickly realises she is on the hunt of a twisted assassin whose trail of killings goes back many years.
As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before he or she strikes again but first she will have to confront the haunting memories which she keeps locked in a ‘box’ in her brain…
What makes this cracking whodunit such a standout treat is Marsons’ clever and compelling blend of dark humour, sparkling dialogue, unexpected emotional depth and a stunningly authentic police procedural evocation that goes way beyond the normal parameters.
Kim Stone, an energetic, inspired, motorbike-mad detective – ‘charged via a USB port’ to use the words of her long-suffering boss – is a woman who breaks boundaries and crosses lines. Driven by her own demons and an overwhelming desire for justice, she will let nothing and nobody stand in her way.
With its clever, neatly joined plotting, electrifying twists and tensions, and brilliant characterisation, Silent Scream heralds a dynamic start to a gripping new crime series.
(Zaffre, paperback, £7.99)