Perfect Silence is the fourth book in the DI Callanach and DCI Turner series from Helen Fields. Before I start with the review I want to say that whilst this book can 100% be enjoyed as a stand-alone, you won’t get 100% of the benefits from the previous books in the series (regarding character relationships and development) if you start on Perfect Silence. But it still can be read as a stand-alone as key characterisation is reiterated throughout, so no one feels left behind.
For those of you who know me, follow my Instagram or YouTube or have just been readers of my reviews for a while, you’ll know that crime fiction isn’t really my ‘thing’. I’m happy to dabble in it from time to time for something new, but it’s not my favourite. I guess that skips a generation as my mum’s an avid crime fiction reader, but neither my sister nor I are.
However, with that being said I think that this series is genuinely one of the best I’ve ever read – and yes, I know that might swing things a bit because I’ve not read many (although I read The Chalk Man earlier this year and loved it so much I sent a copy to my mum!) – but just trust me, this is a good series full stop, you can disregard genre.
Perfect Silence opens in a rather dramatic way – which is typical of crime fiction as it needs to hook the reader – and I have to admit, it took me a while to figure out exactly was going on. Now I don’t know if this is because I’m not a crime diction aficionado and I just don’t get the subtle complexities, or if it was slightly bad writing, or a mix of all sorts of things. All I know is that the first part of the book was a bit of a struggle, but I’m glad I made it through it!
When silence falls, who will hear their cries?
Perfect Silence is once again set in Edinburgh, and has two cases going on at once this time– one involving someone attacking the homeless and drug addicts by carving a ‘Z’ into their faces, and a sadistic killer who is killing women and using their flesh to make dolls as their calling card.
The writing style is masterful enough that both of these cases can go on at the same time and not trip over each other. Neither outshines the other in the way that makes you want to skip ahead. Obviously most people are going to be more invested in the ‘Babydoll Killer’ storyline but when the focus is on the drug story you won’t find yourself wanting to flip a few pages.
However, that’s not to say that moments like that didn’t occur, because they did. There was no specific part or parts where this happened more than others, but I do feel like there were moments when the book just went on a bit about nothing.
At over 400 pages, I feel that some of it could have been cut and we wouldn’t have lost anything of great value. Perhaps some of the dialogue between the characters (which was downright cringe-inducing at times) could have been cut. I appreciate that the characters have to talk to each other in police jargon because the chances are the reader isn’t going to know the ins and outs of police procedures, but it just makes for really unrealistic dialogue and perhaps some of this could have been cut.
Another young woman is found butchered.
But not every book in a series is going to be fantastic – there has to be one that slightly drops the ball, and for me it’s a coin toss between Perfect Silence and Perfect Death in this series.
The characters, as you might know if you’ve read previous books, are still 3D and fleshed out (no pun intended) – including the bad guys. You’ll find that stereotypes are avoided and that the bad guys are quite complex in their insanity. Our regular cast are also relatable but flawed, making for some interesting and believable dynamics.
One thing you might notice if you’ve read the previous books, but not if this is your first venture into the Perfect series, is that the character focus has shifted. Up until Perfect Silence the series has been largely focused on Luc, but Perfect Silence sees the focus highlight Ava Turner instead. That’s not to say that Luc is ignored, he isn’t, but there is a noticeable focus on Ava and how the cases are affecting her.
Perfect Silence is a dark, gritty novel that, whilst taking place in Edinburgh (which is just outside where I live, so I know the city very well!), shows a side of Edinburgh that the tourists won’t see. Mostly because it doesn’t exactly exist – this is fiction after all. But it is authentic enough to feel real.
A doll made of skin is found nestled beside an abandoned baby.
There are parts of Perfect Silence that are incredibly intense – even more so than previous books in the series at times. The killings are brutal, the descriptions are gruesome and what’s left to your imagination can be very haunting depending on your own particular sensibilities. Personally, I say bring it on. I love gritty, dark plots. However there are parts that might be a tad too much for others – it’s never gratuitous, or just for the sake of it, but it is quite unapologetic.
The twists and turns keep coming, but never seem gimmicky, and there’s even a light sprinkling of comedic moments too.
If you like a soft, fun little murder mystery, à la Agatha Christie, this book (and this series) isn’t for you. To everyone else, I highly recommend these books.
The body of a young girl is found dumped on the roadside on the outskirts of Edinburgh. When pathologists examine the remains, they make a gruesome discovery: the silhouette of a doll carved in the victim’s skin.
DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach are struggling to find leads in the case, until a doll made of skin is found nestled beside an abandoned baby.
After another young woman is found butchered, Luc and Ava realise the babydoll killer is playing a horrifying game. And it’s only a matter of time before he strikes again. Can they stop another victim from being silenced forever – or is it already too late?
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[PLEASE NOTE]: I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review. I was not paid or sponsored to write this review – all the opinions are honest and my own.