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by Elizabeth Haynes
HarperCollins, April 2014
368 pages
ISBN: 0062276026

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

UNDER A SILENT MOON, by Elizabeth Haynes, starts with two dead women near a small village in England one autumn morning. Quickly, it becomes apparent that the two deaths are linked, and it's up to the lead Inspector, Louisa "Lou" Smith, and her team, to figure out the connection. I can't say any more about the plot without giving things away. But what I can say is this book is the first of a planned detective series, and it was an excellent start.

The book is the very definition of a police procedural. As a matter of fact the story is interlaced with police reports and interview transcripts which add a realistic feel to the story. The reader experiences the steps of the mystery as it's told, and gets the clues right along with the detectives. Also, the story is recorded in Days and Hours, rather than chapters. It added suspense and speed, though, at first, the storytelling technique was a little off-putting because there are a lot of names and places being thrown at you at once. But the speed at which things launched was compelling, and you felt exactly like the detective who just came upon the crime and was sorting it all out. I really loved it and felt pulled into the book immediately. And once the book grabs you it never lets go.

The protagonist, Lou Smith is well-drawn. She's likeable, tough and very smart. You get to see her at work, where she excels, and in her personal life, which she's working on balancing. She seemed very realistic, as did all the supporting characters. Everyone felt authentic. I kept thinking "this is how a British cop would sound" and "this is exactly what I expected that person to say." It was very British, so to an American reader some terms are unfamiliar, but generally the meaning is clear.

My only complaint, and it's extremely minor, is the title. It felt almost random as it really has nothing to do with the meat of the story. But, as I said, it's a very minor issue. Overall, I found Haynes very easy to read. She creates vivid characters that feel like old friends. And the clues to solving the mystery are dealt out in a well-timed manner, never too stingy nor too generous. And every time you think you have it all figured out you get thrown a new twist. I loved the book from beginning to end. I'm looking forward to more in this series. I'd love to see what Lou has to overcome next.

Paris Abell is blogger and writer who works as a lawyer in New York City.

Reviewed by Paris Abell, February 2014

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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