The Quiet People by Paul Cleave
|The Quiet People by Paul Cleave|
|Reviewer: Lesley Mason|
|Summary: A well-paced read that takes a very different approach to the "missing child" story-line, bringing up some of societies unanswered debates along the way.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 300||Date: November 2021|
|Publisher: Orenda Books|
|External links: Author's website|
What's in a name? An imponderable question, whether roses would smell as sweet if they were called nose-wort for instance. The question has nothing to do with the book, but everything to do with how I came to be reading it. I mistook the author for one that I have loved in the past. The good news is that it turned out not to be a mistake but just a piece of brilliant serendipity.
While I'm in confessional mode, let me say that I am not a fan of "the Prologue". Most books are the worse for them. In this case I might make an exception. We start with Luca Pittman who is in a hurry. He has to hurry because he has children that he should not have, and when he hurries, when he bundles things into the back of his car and tries to run and then hears sirens behind him, which he should not hear because this is New Zealand and that is not how they do things there, he takes a risk. It ends badly.
Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are crime writers. They live in Christchurch, New Zealand. Christchurch is a bit of celebrity when it comes to world-wide cities; it has a persona, a genteel, civilised place to live. Unfortunately, city celebrities are a bit like personality ones – they also have their dark sides, not normally seen.
The Murdochs are not celebrities. They are successful writers, hitting the best-seller lists worldwide, but doing so on the back of the author-slog, the circuit, the interviews, the festivals, the promotions. The actual writing is the fun part of the job. The travelling is the other part. And the interviews…ah the interviews are the part where you say things in one context and (years later) have it thrown back in another. For a crime writer to say that they could get away with murder, after all it is what they spend their entire working lives figuring out how to do, is just a joke, right?
Until the day their 'difficult' son goes missing.
And who do we first suspect when a child is abducted or, possibly, worse?
So…did they do it, or didn't they? Both of them? One or other of them? Can each of them trust the other not to have been involved? There have been so many cases over the years of missing children, some with happy endings, most without, and always we think about the children – which is fair enough – but this isn't a book just about a missing child – this is the story of what happens to the parents when that happens. This is a story, not so much about what happened to Zach the night he threatened, not for the first time, to run away, but the first time he apparently followed through on the threat, but more about his parents, Cameron and Lisa, and what happens to them when their child disappears.
It is a story about police assumptions and bad calls and good calls and dogged detective work and freak discoveries and how everyone involved is only human, no matter how good or weak the systems they work within. It is a story about how families hold together and how they fall apart. It is a story about how the things we say might come back to bite us. It is a story about the pernicious impact of social media and how we can all be manipulated.
Mostly it is a story about the assumptions we make. And how right we can be and how wrong, and how right & wrong are not the same as black & white, they are more blurred than that. It is a story that again and again, if you read it right, asks the reader: so really, what would YOU do?!
And a story that if you're honest enough will have you admit that you do not know.
It is, like all good crime writing, full of twists and turns and false trails. It is well-paced and full of humanity, and raises some unanswerable discussion points along the way. An excellent read.
For more great stuff from NZ check out Fallout (Tito Ihaka) by Paul Thomas, for the latest in crime check out our newest reviews Newest Crime Reviews, or if you're puzzled as to the other Cleave I heartily recommend you start with The Other Hand by Chris Cleave
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