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by Michael Baden and Linda Kenney
Knopf, August 2005
240 pages
ISBN: 1400044197

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

REMAINS SILENT is aimed directly at forensics fans, and it's a bullseye hit. Jake Rosen, medical examiner, is called by his mentor to help with the identification of skeletons found as land is dug up for a new shopping center. When one of the bodies is identified as a war veteran who mysteriously disappeared from a mental hospital decades ago, his daughter calls in criminal lawyer Manny Manfreda to find out what really happened.

The case seems fairly straightforward for both Jake and Manny -- until his evidence disappears and her client abruptly drops the case. Suspicious, they both continue to investigate, and the more facts they uncover, the more pressure is put upon them to stop. Forty years ago, something terrible happened at Turner Hospital, and whoever covered it up then is in the center of a conspiracy to make sure that every witness remains silent.

There's a joke that 'dead men don't talk' unless you're in forensics. Michael Baden is an expert, and he leads the reader through each detail of each discovery, explaining without pontificating. People who like an emotional character-driven cozy might not like this book, but anyone who appreciates science or legal thrillers will love it.

It's as if CSI mated with Law and Order to spawn an action movie -- a really well-paced, logically plotted action movie, not a slam-boom-brainless summer blockbuster. Too many details will spoil the suspense, so suffice it to say that the plot twists regularly and each change is both believable and riveting.

Although the protagonists are based on the authors, they aren't annoyingly perfect superhuman paragons, as so many authorial insertions are. They're well-rounded characters with their own flaws, as is everyone else in the book. Their love affair is a little perfunctory (I don't subscribe to the thought that every male and female lead must fall in love) but that doesn't detract from the overall novel.

I don't rave about many books, but I can't say enough good things about REMAINS SILENT. It has everything I want in a thriller: real science slipped seamlessly into the narrative; characters who are interesting without being self-consciously cute; an action-packed plot that didn't require leaps of logic to suspend my disbelief; and most importantly, a difficult, challenging mystery. This is not a fluffy read -- but it is a highly entertaining one.

Reviewed by Linnea Dodson, August 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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