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Taylor, Andrew - 'A Stain on the Silence'
Hardcover: 352 pages (Apr. 2006) Publisher: Michael Joseph Ltd ISBN: 0718147499

Andrew Taylor is the highly acclaimed and prize-winning author of psychological thrillers. His THE AMERICAN BOY - set in the early 19th Century - was a Richard & Judy book selection that became a best seller in the UK and in the USA.

A STAIN ON THE SILENCE is a contemporary suspense story told by James, a happily married architectural engineer, taking a call on site, on his mobile: "Jamie", she says "It's me!". Nobody ever called him Jamie except Lily Murthington - the stepmother of an old school friend Carlo, with whose family he had spent the holidays, 24 years ago. She had been trying to contact him - his assistant back at the office, confirms messages using the diminutive name, had been left for him. From her call, it is obvious Lily is dying and she asks to see him urgently. The affair they had when he was sixteen, produced a daughter Kate, who now needs help. Her husband - who had accepted Kate as his own - has since died, and as James is her natural father - and his daughter is in serious trouble - Lily wants him to take care of her. Kate is pregnant and suspected of murder.

The sudden surprise of this emergency makes it impossible for James to evade meeting his daughter - but he is unwilling to become involved. He suggests she find a solicitor - and he leaves her to it, but Kate follows him home and appears at the windows of his house. She has nowhere to stay - she says Carlo will kill her if he finds her. James's wife is at a meeting - he had no chance to tell her his extraordinary story - so he finds Kate an empty anonymous place, to which he has keys - saying Carlo wouldn't find her there. But the next day, she has gone. This is where an intricate web of incidents begin to unfold unpleasantly - uncovering other mysteries that have left reverberating echoes down the years.

In this bizarre situation, James begins to remember his past - his lonely schooldays, recalling situations during the holidays shared with Lily's stepson Carlo - both boys motherless from death or divorce, and the summer holidays together in the 80s. The happy family life shared with Lily Murthington and her stepchildren through those long days, and his slow awakening into manhood, accepting kindness from his friend's stepmother, that flowered into an obsessive love for her. It disturbs other memories from that time - memories that he had hoped were buried in the past for good, but scenes from his past began to interweave with the present.

Andrew Taylor's careful prose vividly recalls the bewildering experience of being an adolescent, trying to cope with disaster and uncertainty, and the even more disastrous problems caused by the treachery of others. A STAIN ON THE SILENCE is quite a strange, disturbing book.

Mary Wilde, England
July 2006

last updated 23/03/2008 20:57