The Silenced by Stephen Lloyd Jones
Publisher - Headline
Published - Out Now
Price - £8.99 paperback
I thank the publisher for providing me with an advance copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review
Mallory Grace just killed a man. To survive the next hour, she’ll have to kill again. To survive the night, she’ll need a miracle. Obadiah Macintosh doesn’t seem like a miracle. He is a recluse who works alone at an animal sanctuary, and he has a secret. When the dogs in his care alert him to intruders hidden by the darkness he knows they are coming for him. Mallory and Obadiah were strangers, brought together for one purpose. To give new light to a terrifying world. But now they are on the run, and evil intends to find them.
You’ll remember the opening of The Silenced for a long time. It’s a really good cold opening with Mallory working out how to deal with a dead man in her bathroom. The reader doesn’t know what on earth is going on. It’s a technically skilful thriller that crosses the globe and human history but while it delivers on action and locations I think it is more a mixed bag in terms of characters you can understand and want to care about.
Mallory Grace (not her real name) has been on the run for many years and her pursuers have finally found a way to trace her. A chance meeting in Cornwall outside a science fiction convention has led to an event that means to some groups Mallory and Obadiah must die. The duo then run across the UK and Europe to hide from this group pursued most viscously by Aylah who has personally sworn an end to Mallory and will stop at nothing to see her die.
Lloyd Jones has an amazing cinematic style and really knows how to flow action and wider scenes together. You can easily see this as a film where Mallory flees from a London suburb across beautiful locations such as Cornwall, The Alps and every scene is well pictured. So, once you start in that scene with a body its propels you at high speed and there is a great set of tension as the reader sees Mallory’s pursuers are both technically very powerful and ruthless. The teasing mysteries as to why Mallory must die are what propels the first half of the story along and its fun watching the introverted, skilled and often violent Mallory with the ultra-relaxed and geeky Obadiah. Watching their relationship thaw out is a nice bit of character building
Unfortunately, I found two major issues with the story. The McGuffin as to why Mallory is targeted really pushes belief and for me these days has a staler taste of women being valued for what they can produce rather than an active character. It just isn’t sold that effectively to believe that all this violence is being committed for such a flimsy reason. My other issue is that while pace and action is non-stop for most of the novel character development seems slight. Mallory is the skilled fighter who can hide anywhere, and Obadiah is the geeky but kind companion (although his geeky tastes resemble more those of a 40-year-old!) their characters don’t stand out and sadly for me mean once the central mystery is relieved I cared much less for their survival. The one exception was the main villain Aliya – her motivations for Mallory’s death are much more personal than worshiping an ancient tradition and her story is fascinating. You’re not sure right up to the end where she is going.
Overall while I think the story is well paced I didn’t find myself rooting for our heroes and it didn’t for me stand out or take any surprises. I would recommend it if you want a fast-paced action thriller to turn the brain off for but I’m not sure like all good movies it will leave a lasting impression.