One of the reasons I read books is that I don’t like to watch TV. So it’s not necessarily a compliment when I say that A Quiet Death could easily be made into an episode of Broadchurch: death among dark and brooding scenery. But because of the shared point of view of the two main protagonists, it’s like watching a mixture of Broadchurch and Grey’s Anatomy.
Don’t get me wrong, this book has the same grittiness and excitement as the first—somehow I missed the second—maybe too much the same. In this book—as in No Good Reason—an abused girl or woman escapes from captivity only be found either badly injured or dead on the rugged slopes of the Dark Peak area of North England. As in the first book, the story starts out a bit slowly but revs up after a few chapters.
The rotating chapters between Sanne Jensen, a police detective, and her girlfriend Meg Fielding, a doctor specializing in emergency room medicine, are not only interesting in themselves but often act as brief respites between some of the horrors that are almost continually revealed. The fact that they end up intertwining is also a big plus. It took a lot of thought and good writing to accomplish that.
Sanne and Meg, lifelong friends who dated occasionally, have finally decided that they want to be a real couple, although they still prefer to have separate residences. They are kind of a model couple, but for some reason scenes from their domestic life are a lot less interesting than their chapters apart (kind of like when Mary Beth Lacey goes home to her husband at the end of her shift). In fact, the first chapter was so bland I found myself wondering how I could have liked the first book so much. Yes, it gave the reader information on the two main characters, but it was information that could have been worked in elsewhere.
But it got better quickly and Hunter’s agenda—this time it is sex trafficking and sex slavery—is not only horrifying, but important. Bravo for bringing this subject to everyone’s attention. Repeating another theme from the first book, the local scenery plays an important part of the book, as does Sanne’s familiarity with it. And one last similarity to the first book: one of the characters gets trapped alone with bad guys, but it happens by accident, not stupidity, like you see in so many other similar books. Formulaic? Well, yes. Kind of like those TV shows I mentioned earlier. But here’s another kudo, the author has cut down her use of the word “grin” from 31 times in the first book to only 10 in this one. It would be interesting to know how many times she uses it in the second book. Anyone?
It’s hard to think of giving this book less than 4 stars, so I won’t. But I did have reservations about a couple of things. First, a third character—Sanner’s supervisor—gets several of her own point of view sections. For me, this is an artistic hiccup that means the author has taken the easy way round. I don’t believe that Penny Mickelbury or Gina L. Dartt—who also have dual protagonists—would introduce a third point of view just because some scenes might take place without either of the main characters being present. And the several confusions about how to pronounce Sanne’s name gets old very quickly.
The writing is better than average, but not exceptional. The good lines—“I have a meeting at stupid o’clock” —are matched by poor or overwritten ones—“She took a moment to curse every deity known to man, plus a few more she’d made up.”
In any case, this one is recommended for all readers, but especially for those who are trying to wean themselves from too much TV. CSI Derbyshire, anyone?
Note1: This book was just named the winner of the 2017 Rainbow Award.
Note 2: I read a review copy of this novel, which was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley.
Note 3: See my full reviews of over 250 other Lesbian Mystery novels at http://www.goodreads.com/