Miss Bates was curious to read Andrea Kane because she read a good review *somewhere* about the first book in her Forensic Instincts series, The Girl Who Disappeared Twice. ‘Sides, Kane wrote romance and the lure of suspense and romance together is too delicious for Miss Bates to ignore. What she found was a novel that could easily stand in for a television CSI show … shows too numerous and repetitive to keep track of. (But, damn, Miss B. always got a kick out of David Caruso donning/doffing his shades.) Kane’s novel doesn’t deviate from this tried and true formula. Miss Bates read The Silence That Speaks while on holiday, her reading broken up by road trip nausea, uncomfortable hotel beds, and daily excursions. Her review will be minimal, helping get her reviewing impetus back in gear. Kane’s contemporary thriller, with a touch of romance, set in NYC, centres its crime-fighting/crime-solving plot around an independent detective agency, the six-member Forensic Instincts team.
The Silence That Speaks stands on its own quite well, though it is fourth in the series. It opens with an attempt on Madeleine Westfield’s life (she’s an RN at a local hospital). The introduction is nicely fraught with mystery and tension. Madeleine, “Maddy,” turns to the Forensic Instincts team for help. She’d had a love affair with one member, Marc Devereaux, former SEAL and FBI agent, ten years ago. In the course of Forensic Instincts’ investigation, Maddy and Marc renew their relationship. The case’s resolution also sees their walking-into-the-sunset HEA. The rest of the team are introduced: co-owner, Casey Woods; techie, Ryan McKay; woo-woo clairvoyant, Claire (hardy-har); retired FBI agent, Patrick Lynch; and the adorable human scent bloodhound, Hero. To add to the CSI flavouring, there’s an AI jack-of-all-trades named Yoda. Madeleine’s mystery near-killer involves the agency’s digging into the death of her hospital administrator, Ronald Lexington. He died while on Maddie’s sympathetic ex-husband’s, Conrad’s operating-table. Their probe into the mystery of why/how/who wanted to do in Lexington exposes the ambitions, jealousies, and passions of a tight-knit community working under stressful conditions. There are a myriad of hospital-based characters who enter the picture as Forensic Instincts works to reveal Maddy’s attempted murderer and, obviously the same person, the one who’s trying to frame her ex-husband for Lexington’s death.
Unfortunately, The Silence That Speak devolved. Miss Bates enjoyed the various characters that make up Forensic Instincts and the kind of work they do: working as a team, co-ordinating efforts, and putting heads together to bring a killer to light. Miss Bates appreciated the idea of a group of people working complementarily to bring justice to the world: “It was never a surprise to Casey when Marc’s mind and hers were in sync. They had different histories, strengths, and personalities, but their brains operated on the same wavelength.” Forensic Instincts is an organization that brings together the best of the best, which is why it came as a surprise and disappointment to Miss Bates when these characters behaved, well, stupidly. As the narrative moved away from the team and into the mind of the killer(s), as the killer was more and more obvious to the reader, Forensics Instincts and all their know-how, woo-woo, and technology couldn’t figure it out looked implausible.
Kane’s writing is serviceable and the pacing in the first half is well done; the second half drags. The villains’ motivations are obvious and the resolution stereotypical. Marc and Maddy’s romance isn’t much of a romance. They meet, have sex, admit what has been unrequited love till now, and carry along. It’s hard to believe that after ten years, they have nothing to resolve, or work out. But to give Kane credit, this isn’t a romance novel. It’s a thriller/mystery, CSI-wannabe … there are some cutesy bits among the various team members. Miss Bates confesses she wanted the dog to have a greater role; he looked like a lot of fun, but there wasn’t much need for a human scent canine expert in the plot. Miss Bates can’t say she loved Kane’s novel, but if you’re a CSI fan and want to read a team-led thriller, this may be a good series to look into. As for Misses Bates and Austen, “it had a high claim to forbearance,” Emma.
Andrea Kane’s The Silence That Speaks, fourth in the Forensic Instincts series after The Girl Who Disappeared Twice, The Line Between Here and Gone, and The Stranger You Know, is published by MIRA Books. It released on April 28th and is available at your preferred vendors. Miss Bates is grateful to MIRA Books for an e-ARC, via Edelweiss.