Monday, 28 January 2019

OWEN MULLEN - OUT OF THE SILENCE (2019)


Synopsis/blurb......

A powerful new thriller from a critically-acclaimed and bestselling author.

Star investigative reporter Ralph Buchanan’s glory days are behind him. His newspaper has banished him to Pakistan, not knowing the greatest moment of his long career is waiting for him there.

When Simone Jasnin asks him to help expose a grave injustice, he finds himself embroiled in a harrowing tale that began in a dusty settlement in rural Punjab, setting in motion a chain of events that will change the lives of everyone involved.

Seven years later in the city of Lahore, members of a prominent family are being brutally murdered one by one. The only clue is a hand-carved wooden bangle left at the scene of each crime.

As the list of suspects grows and the tension mounts, Ralph realises the answers might be closer to home than he ever thought possible.

Solving the mystery will put him back on top but at what cost?

Only when the smoke clears will the killing stop and honour be satisfied…

An interesting novel from Owen Mullen and a big departure, content and setting-wise from his last one - In Harm's Way.

Here we have a tale of a doomed childhood friendship-cum-romance-cum-dreams of a future together, dashed when Afra's mother denies Jameel her daughter's hand in marriage. Crushed and dispirited, Jameel sells his small parcel of land and makes his way to Lahore seeking out his uncle, his only living relative. Afra has an alternate suitor, one with money and prospects, and unfortunately as she soon finds out a cruel and vicious heart. A trait shared by his two brothers. Their mother and sister are carved from the same mould.

New lives then. Both in Lahore, both markedly different from the ones they imagined growing up. Jameel prospers. With his uncle he finds love, family, respect, friendship, an education and some life schooling and has a bright future learning his uncle's business and in time taking over the reins. In his heart he remembers Afra.

Afra is far less fortunate. Cruelty, abuse, marital rape, beatings and when unable to produce a child an heir and after an untruth is believed much worse. Found dying, Afra manages to impart her story to a doctor who tries to help her.

And then the husband and his family, learn what's its like when the shoe is on the other foot.

In a separate story strand which eventually ties in we have a washed up alcoholic has-been journalist killing himself slowly with alcohol, before being offered the opportunity to write one last story that could make a difference and have someone significant in his life.

Quite a topical novel.... women's rights in Pakistan, or more realistically the lack of them, arranged marriage, alcoholism, doomed love, revenge, and second chances.

A bit different from what I usually read, in respect of setting mainly and quite enjoyable for that. Mullen makes some serious points about women in Pakistan while still entertaining with a tale of violent revenge where the killer's identity is unknown but hinted at. Obviously Mullen has a trick or two up his sleeve and there are several twists before our outcome is revealed. Fair play it wasn't someone I was expecting.

Interesting, enjoyable. Top marks for setting and story. Solid characters, especially our young lad Jameel and his journey to manhood and our old soak of a journalist, Ralph. Lots to like overall.

4 from 5

Out of the Silence is published today.

Read in January, 2019
Published - 2019
Page count - 306
Source - review copy from author
Format - kindle

13 comments:

  1. It sounds as though this one deals with some really important topical issues, Col. And the setting is really intriguing to me. I think I'd want to wait on this one until I'm ready for a harder look at some of the issues...

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    1. Margot, it does highlight some important topics, while entertaining at the same time. It's hard to do both and not appear preachy. Mullen accomplishes that quite well though.

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  2. This sounds good, Col, I know very little about Pakistan. I would like to give it a try someday. Like you, I am cutting back on buying but I can get the Kindle version now and fit it in later in the year.

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    1. Tracy, you might enjoy this one for the same reasons as me - a different culture and a different setting.

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  3. Books by Owen Mullen have been on my tbr list, for awhile.. your review has encouraged me to move them up for soonest reading.. thank you

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    1. Kt - I think you might enjoy his work. Thanks for stopping by...

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  4. Col, the story and the setting are a big draw, certainly a novel of its times. No much has changed across the border, though one hears of similar stories at this end too.

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    1. Prashant, you do hear some horror stories from your part of the world regarding the appalling treatment of women. I wouldn't say it is confined to India or Pakistan. Abuse, sexual assault, violence, human trafficking occurs frequently in the west as well. Just check the news on a daily basis.

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    2. You're right, Col. Sometimes it feels like we're living in medieval times.

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    3. Yeah. I wonder if it's always been like that, and that the only difference is that we are more aware of it these days.

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  5. Sounds pretty fascinating, even though the topics are so grim.

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    1. Unusual setting and content for me, grim but not overly so. Might be worth a look at this fellow Scot's work.

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