Dandi Daley Mackall’s latest book for young adults, The Silence of Murder, takes the reader along on a slowly unraveling mystery about a beloved coach, murdered in cold blood; a mute, autistic teen, on trial for the crime; and a strong-willed young woman, determined to prove her older brother isn’t a killer.  silence

Sixteen year old Hope is her 18 year old brother Jeremy’s protector, the only person who truly understands him and appreciates his unique way of being in the world.  Since  Jeremy stopped speaking at the age of 9, Hope has made it her mission in life to be the bridge between reserved, autistic, creative Jeremy and everyone else, especially their hard-drinking, quick to anger mother, Rita.  They were doing OK after moving to the small town in Ohio where Rita grew up – Hope had a part time job waitressing, Jeremy helped out with the school’s baseball team, mucked stalls at a local stable, and Hope even had a friend at school – until the morning of the year’s biggest game when the team’s beloved Coach is found bludgeoned to death.  When The Silence of Murder opens, Hope is on the stand at Jeremy’s murder trial, sharing memories of Jermey’s behavior to go along with the defense’s case that Jeremy is not-guilty by reason of insanity.  Hope believes in her heart of hearts that Jeremy didn’t kill Coach Johnson, despite the witnesses, evidence, and general consensus of the town otherwise.  With the somewhat reluctant help of 2 guys from the baseball team, she starts asking questions, snooping around, and following up on clues the local sheriff seems to have ignored to try to save Jeremy before it’s too late.

The Silence of Murder  starts a little slowly, but Mackall carefully builds tension throughout as Hope doggedly pursues the truth.  The crank calls, shadowy stalker, and obvious attempts by multiple people to evade Hope’s inquiries add to the feeling of a conspiracy to pin the horrible crime on a easy target.  As the “investigation” goes on, more people show hints of dark secrets, explosive tempers, and potential motives and opportunites for murder.  Things are wrapped up a little to easily and neatly in a courtroom confession at the end of the book, but this can be forgiven in light of the engaging way the mystery unravels.  Readers who enjoy a detective story laced with misclues, false truths, and multiple suspects will enjoy tracking down the truth with Hope.

  • Posted by Cori

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