As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Macmillan, 19 November 2015. ISBN:
Mari Hannah’s Kate Daniels series has earned her a lot of plaudits and
a great many fans, and it’s good to see her spread her wings a little further –
though she doesn’t stray far from her beloved Northumberland, and as in her
earlier books, the beautiful coastal landscape comes to life as a perfect
background for a page-turning story.
Matthew Ryan is a Special
Branch sergeant whose boss and best friend Jack Fenwick is under investigation
for serious corruption by Professional Standards. Eloise O’Neil is the
Detective Superintendent doing the investigating. Not exactly a partnership
made in heaven, you’d think; and indeed, for the first half of the book they
are firmly on opposite sides. Ryan is suspended, under suspicion of helping
Fenwick escape from a prison van, and determined to prove them both innocent
despite the handicap of no warrant card and no access to information.
Ryan isn’t Special Branch for
nothing, and he has his methods. Hannah creates a well-rounded, absorbing cast
of characters around him as he digs deep and bends the rules in the battle to
clear Fenwick’s name, and uncovers a wide-ranging conspiracy while he’s about
it. Grace Ellis is a terrier-like retired senior detective with fingers in all
kinds of useful pies. Frank Newman is ex-MI5, equally useful and suitably
shadowy. Ryan’s lawyer sister Caroline is the most competent blind person I’ve
ever encountered in fiction.
Over on the other side,
Maguire, O’Neil’s bagman, is thoroughly objectionable, as befits a Professional
Standards officer, and determined to thwart Ryan at every opportunity. In
contrast, O’Neil herself is fair, well respected and not afraid to admit she
has been wrong: a far cry from the usual portrayal of Professional Standards
officers in crime fiction.
Character is Hannah’s second
strength after landscape, and the many minor players, good guys and bad, are
well drawn too. That sense of life going on beyond the page permeates the
The narrative falls into two
distinct halves, but is no less pacy and gripping for that. Between them, Ryan
and O’Neil pick apart a conspiracy and cover-up which spreads over several
countries and has claimed many lives, and along the way negotiate quite a bit
of unresolved sexual tension, some of which remains unresolved to the end,
though never at the expense of the plot. The Silent Room is a standalone
– except that a tantalizing loose end is left dangling as a strong hint that we
haven’t seen the last of this intriguing pair, and not only because of that
The Kate Daniels series has
already raised Mari Hannah’s profile as a crime writer; new series or
standalone, this book can only enhance that reputation.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Hannahwas born in
London, She now lives in a small Northumberland village with her partner, a
former murder detective. Mari became a writer after her career as
a Probation Officer was cut short following an assault on duty. She began
using a computer because it was too painful to write with a pen.
Ironically, the idea that she might one day become a writer then
began to form in her head. She tried different forms of writing
before settling on prose, and spent several years scriptwriting. She thenturned her attention to the BBC, pitching a
television serial based on characters in her then unfinished debut crime novel The Murder Wall. After completing
the TV script, she went back to the book she had started years before but
somehow never thought she’d finish.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with
books, about half of them crime fiction.