Linda Moscow is shocked to find her son Gabriel in her kitchen one morning. It emerges that he has been told to report to a police station after a woman’s body was found in an allotment at the back of his home. He has come to her for help. It wouldn’t be the first time she’s compromised her beliefs for her only child. But the past has a way of catching up with a person, and Linda’s past is catching up with her.
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed The Life I Left Behind I was keen to read An Act of Silence, the latest novel from Colette McBeth.
The story is not as it first seems and develops differently than I would have expected. It is difficult to say too much without giving away the crux of the story.
The story moves between time periods and focusses on a different character. This allows the story and characters to develop in layers, as slowly more and more is revealed about the past and how it has influenced the present.
Many of the characters are not particularly likeable, though they have reasons for their actions which makes them more understandable, and in some cases more acceptable. As the story progresses the characters become more rounded, more real and more poignant or repulsive as a result. Linda for example becomes less cold, less detached and more compassionate, loving and broken as the story progresses. Her son, Gabriel is a strange mixture of a boy unsure of his mother’s love, and a man not willing to take responsibility for his own actions.
The storyline revolves around abhorrent acts that have sadly become ever more real, as more and more cases occur and emerge in real life. The fact that this was fiction mirroring fact made it all the more impacting and emotive.
If I’m honest I’m not a big fan of stories that use narrative techniques such as mistaken identity, cover ups and conspiracy theories (and I’m not saying which one was used in this novel as I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone). That said, the more I read of An Act of Silence, the more I was drawn into the story, the writing strong and taut, compelling me to read.
This is not a typical whodunit. It’s more of an examination as to why people act as they do, be it motivated by self-preservation, revenge or love.
This is a story about secrets, and the lengths people will go to in order to protect them. A timely narrative on things that have for too long remained unspoken, it is also a tale that shows the truth will out eventually, not matter how much we try to keep it hidden.
I look forward to reading more from Colette McBeth soon.