Listen to the Shadows, Danuta Reah, Harper Torch, $6.99.
Many of my favorite book recommendations have come from customers - Danuta Reah is one to add to the list. One of our book club members told me that Danuta Reah was all she had been reading lately; and when I went to a mystery conference in Indiana where Danuta Reah was a guest, it seemed preordained that I try her out. England is apparently packed full with gifted writers, of which Reah is apparently one. Her books remind me most strongly of Michelle Spring's, with a touch of Minette Walters thrown in for good measure.
Listen to the Shadows begins, compellingly, with the disappearance of a six year old girl, Lucy, who is given to imaginary friends and escapes that drive her mother to distraction. This time, she appears well and truly gone, along with her baby-sitter, Emma. Lucy is found; Emma is not so lucky. Lucy's mother, an illustrator, had been working on a drawing before Lucy's disappearance of a "normal" street - but behind every corner and window there lurks a monster eye or limb. It's an apt metaphor for a book where nothing is what it appears, nor is it possible for any one character to communicate clearly with another without a misunderstanding that leads, in more than one instance, to a tragedy.
The main character is actually Suzanne, Lucy's neighbor, a woman so damaged by the death of her younger brother that she cannot bear to bring up her own child - she fears she'll ruin his life as surely as she must have ruined her brother's. She's led into the arms of the main police character, Detective Inspector Steve McCarthy, who by all appearances is cold and uncommunicative; but Suzanne is ultimately too much for him to resist, though their relationship is plagued as well with misunderstandings and miscommunications.
Suzanne's work, is, in fact, based on the premise that violent young people often have language or communication disorders, and it's one of these subjects, Ashly, who she thinks she saw at the crime scene. She instantly regrets having said it, as she's unsure it was him or not, but it's the only lead the police have, and they have to pursue it. This book is as complex as this brief outline would indicate; it's a beautifully thought out novel, well worth a look.
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