Dead Silent by Shirley Wells is the follow-up to Presumed Dead, in which Dylan Scott finds himself called back to the Lancashire town of Dawson’s Clough – a place he never thought he’d see again.
This time the private investigator has been called upon to solve another disappearance case, that of Samantha Hunt. Sam was a bright and bubbly young woman with her whole life ahead of her, until she failed to show up for work one morning and was never seen again. She was a tomboy, more at home in jeans than dresses, and a mechanic at the local classic car garage. Her parents seem to adore her, her boyfriend loved her and everyone has nothing but good words about her – so why would anyone want her gone?
Dylan is hired by Rob Hunt, Sam’s father, to track her down no matter the cost, as he has been diagnosed with lung cancer and doesn’t have long left. He and Sam’s mother, Marion, are divorced, so his daughter is all he has left to hold onto. However, there are very little details that he can tell Dylan about her disappearance, and it is clear that he couldn’t stand her boyfriend, Jack.
Jack was one of the last people to hear from Sam, having had a phone call from her before she went missing. He also had an argument with her the night before, making him the police’s prime suspect in the case. Dylan isn’t so sure, as all he can see when he questions Jack is a man who would have done anything for his girlfriend. Jack also reveals some details about Sam that no one else knew, and perhaps some things that were better left hidden.
As for Marion, she is as desperate as Rob for their daughter to come home, but at the same time has accepted the reality that it might be a hopeless cause. After her divorce she married Alan Roderick, a man whom no one seems to have a good word for. He is abrupt, callous and aggressive, seeming not to care about his step-daughter’s disappearance, and not interested in Dylan’s questions. Definitely not a man to be messed with, could he be responsible for disposing of Sam?
On top of this investigation, Dylan is still struggling to cope with family life, as his wife is yet to take him back after their separation. He is dividing his time between Lancashire and London yet again, placing a large strain on his finances. Will he and Bev ever reconcile, or will he be forced to continue sharing a tiny flat with his mother? Needless to say this causes an awful lot of tension throughout the novel, being forever at the forefront of Dylan’s mind.
I really enjoy reading this series, as so far the mysteries have been so well crafted that I’m never entirely sure what will happen next, or where the case will take us to. In book one it was France, and in book two we are taken to Scotland, an amazing gamble for the investigator to take in pursuit of clues. Particularly in this sequel it was unclear for a long time whether Sam would be found dead or alive, which really added to the tension and the desperation to solve the case sooner rather than later.
However, this book did fall down a little from the first instalment as I found that the final revelation was a little predictable. By the end of the book I had long since guessed who was involved, even if I wasn’t quite sure how it had been carried out. Despite this it was still a highly enjoyable read, and like the first book it was interesting to see how all the loose threads would come together. The only other plot issue I had was one of convenience, as the end discovery was incredibly convenient for Dylan, more a case of luck than skill, and I felt that from there everything was rushed.
As for Dylan, he annoyed me somewhat in this book with his comments regarding his wife, as they were borderline sexist and blaming her reactions on her hormones. There were only a few instances of this though, as he grows as a character throughout the rest of the book. Unlike his first adventure, Dylan doesn’t feel the need to drink as much, proving he has matured and is learning to cope with his life.
I can’t wait to see where Shirley Wells takes this series next, as for a sleepy Lancashire town Dawson’s Clough seems to be full of mysteries. I look forward to Dylan’s next investigation, and am particularly interested in how his family dynamics will change after what we learn from the final chapter. Another great mystery that will have you on the edge of your seat! Verdict
A great follow up to Presumed Dead, this series achieves a great balance between the investigation, plot and Dylan’s personal problems, incorporating a vast wealth of detail. The plot of this sequel was a little more predictable than that of the first book, but the conclusion is still fairly shocking and the ending makes me wonder where Dylan Scott will go next.
Picking up after the conclusion of Silent Witness, Dead Calm by Shirley Wells is the fourth book in the Dylan Scott Mystery series, and this time takes the form of a novella.
Along with his wife Bev, their two children Freya and Luke and Dylan’s mother Vicky, the Scott family are taking a family cruise aboard the Midnight Sun. This cruise in the middle of November is a freezing cold expedition to Norway in order to see the Northern Lights, a trip which Dylan was not overly happy about undertaking. However, he wants to keep Bev happy, and his hippy mother is always up for new experiences.
After resorting to the bar for a well-earned drink, Dylan returns to his cabin only to find elderly Hanna Larsen struggling to work the key card for her cabin next door. Dylan helps her to enter, receiving very little thanks and finding Hanna to be a stubborn old bat with the desire to complain about every little detail of her voyage. She grumbles about the fact that she has had to change room as the cruise company messed up her booking and failed to give her a room with a balcony.
Finally getting some sleep after this altercation in the corridor, Dylan wakes at around three a.m. to hear someone leaving Hanna Larsen’s room. Thinking nothing of it, he goes back to sleep only to wake up to the news that Hanna has died in the night. Everyone states that she died of a heart attack, having had a history of heart problems, but Dylan is not so sure.
Despite Bev’s pleas for him to abandon his theories and just enjoy their holiday, Dylan turns investigative and begins to question the guests that appear to have known Hanna personally. He finds out that a chemical company wanted to buy her land to build a road for easier access to their factory, and it just so happens that the two sons of the company’s owner are onboard. Corporate firms can be pretty desperate to get their own way, but would they really kill an old lady?
Then there is the dilemma of the room switch, as the woman who would have been staying there was Ruby Jackson, the widow of a millionaire businessman whose son is also onboard. His business is in dire straits and he has asked his mother for some money, but she is a firm believer in her children achieving things by themselves and not relying on parental handouts.
With a list of potential suspects for both Ruby and Hanna, Dylan has taken on the task of narrowing down the list whilst trying to keep his investigation under wraps. He is trying not to draw too much attention to himself, but inevitably there are those who are suspicious of him and this places his family in danger. Will Dylan be able to figure out who the murderer really is before any harm comes to his family?
Again I really enjoyed this series, and despite being a novella I didn’t get the feeling that the plot was rushed, and with the characters already being well-established in previous books there were no issues of character development. I liked how the investigation was quick and to the point, with there being a limited time period for Dylan to solve the case on the cruise. His interactions with both Bev and his mother were amusing as always, as it was clear he had very little control over the holiday and how his money was being spent.
With it being only a novella there wasn’t the time to develop the characters of all of the suspects, but we are still given an in-depth insight into their motives and suspicious actions. I was surprised at the ending, as I only had a slight inkling of who the murderer was and hadn’t guessed the full extent of the plot. The conclusion was a little extreme, but I wasn’t expecting anything overly serious from this novella and enjoyed the book just the same.
Well-written as always, this novella made an excellent mini addition to the series and I really loved the way Dylan’s family/work balance is portrayed. In this book it was the first time that his family had been threatened, and this added an extra dimension to Dylan’s character as we get to see how fiercely protective he is of them and that he will do whatever it takes to protect them. This novella satisfied my taste for the series, but I can’t wait for the welcome return to Dawson’s Clough in book five and a full-size novel! Verdict
Another great addition to the Dylan Scott Mystery series, this short novella was quick and to the point without losing any of the magic of the previous books. The home/work balance was further maintained here, and the idea that Dylan’s family would be placed in danger added to the excitement. A refreshing break from the familiar setting of Dawson’s Clough, but I can’t wait to return there for book five.
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Dead Calm by Shirley Wells (A Dylan Scott Mystery #4) Mystery & Detective Carina Press (June 2012) Ebook: 109 pages
Silent Witness by Shirley Wells takes place around eight months after the events of Dead Silent, with Dylan being called back to the dreary Lancashire town of Dawson’s Clough once again.
This time he has the impossible task of proving a man’s innocence, or even his guilt, after a jury found him guilty of murder. Carly Walsingham was found dead in a bath of her own blood with her carotid artery severed, and all the clues point to Aleksander Kaminski, her ex-husband, as the culprit. His fingerprints were found all over the crime scene, but there was no sign of the murder weapon, only of the pillow with which the killer tried to strangle her before resorting to the knife.
Everyone in Dawson’s Clough believes that Kaminiski is guilty besides his current wife, Sue, who runs a dog rescue sanctuary and is determined to prove her husband’s innocence. Dylan doesn’t want to give her false hope, but she is adamant that Alek will be coming home and that Dylan is the man for the job. However, even Dylan is doubtful of whether he should take this case, as the police investigation seems watertight at first glance, and proving innocence is a lot harder than proving guilt.
Dylan’s decision is placed in further turmoil when he arranges a prison visit with Kaminski, as the convict shows little interest in speaking with Dylan and doesn’t seem to care whether or not he is freed. Is this the sign of a guilty man, or a man who has given up all hope? Private investigator Dylan Scott is unsure for the first time in his career as to whether this case is worth taking on, and the case soon becomes a lot more complicated than it first appears.
Life is made exceedingly difficult for Dylan by Neil Walsingham, Carly’s husband, who is reluctant to offer up any information and whose alibi is shaky at best. He was having multiple affairs behind his wife’s back and is a charmer capable of spinning unbreakable lies. He knew that Carly and Alek were continuing to have sex on a regular basis, despite their marriage having been over for years, and seemed to want Carly merely as a trophy wife.
Then there is the problem of Jamie Tinsley, a local vet who seems to be obsessed with Sue and is frequently found helping out at the animal sanctuary. Sue doesn’t seem to be aware of his secret desires for her, but is he as harmless as he seems, or should Dylan consider him a suspect?
As with the previous books in the series, Dylan was a great main character through which to interpret the mysterious goings on in Dawson’s Clough. He’d lost some of the chauvinism which had crept into the last book and was much more amicable. My love for the series was very much renewed and this book reminded me why I loved the first book so much, and in fact why I’ve loved the first three books.
Again this book featured Dylan trying to balance his investigation with his home life, made more difficult by the arrival of his new daughter, Freya. His wife Bev has finally let him move back into the family home, but it is clear that she is struggling to cope with the new baby, and Dylan suspects she might have post-natal depression. This gives him further doubts as to whether or not he should take the case, or whether his family needs him at home.
I did think his family worries were resolved a little too suddenly, but at the same time I don’t think the novel could have worked if the issues were too severe, as it would have been too much for Dylan to deal with all at once. As far as the investigation went, the lines of inquiry were exceedingly clever as always, and it was amazing how all of the clues came together. Unlike with book two I had no idea at all who the true murderer was, and was shocked at the conclusion. There were a couple of questions left unanswered, which has so far been unusual for the series, but I’m looking forward to finding out the answers to these in the next books. Verdict
A welcome return to form for this series, with this book being more enjoyable than the last. I had no idea who the murderer was until the very end and was suitably shocked, and for once there were a couple of unanswered questions that I’d love to know more about. Dylan returned to being the investigator I knew and loved and I now can’t wait to read book four.
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Silent Witness by Shirley Wells (A Dylan Scott Mystery #3) Mystery & Detective Carina Press (March 2012) Ebook: 287 pages
'Stitch Me Deadly' is the sequel to The Quick and the Thread. I really love these fun titles! While it is the seconReviewed by Jo for Book Chick City.
'Stitch Me Deadly' is the sequel to The Quick and the Thread. I really love these fun titles! While it is the second in the series, it did feel like a standalone book and you are soon caught up on any details you think you may need to know.
Marcy has settled into her embroidery shop, ‘The Seven Year Stitch’ (snerk!) in Tallulah Falls, Oregon. The book starts with a sweet, elderly lady visiting Marcy at her shop, bringing with her an antique sampler that her great-Grandmother stitched. The lady soon collapses and dies in the shop, and the authorities discover the lady’s apparent heart attack really was murder. Marcy thinks the sampler is a clue to the old lady’s murderer and is on the hunt to find out who would kill such a kind, sweet lady and also to prove her own innocence.
Marcy was a really kind character with a big heart. I liked her a lot, her personality really was lovely. Marcy’s shop is the main setting and I enjoyed reading how the locals would come and sit in the ‘sit and stitch’ area and gossip.
The mystery was tricky to figure out, and I was right there with Marcy and Angus, her Irish Wolfhound (who is adorable!) and I often felt the need to turn the pages as quickly as I could to discover the answers. My summary of the plot really is small compared to the amount of detail and plot involved here, and I’d really recommend this. Reading this feels like sitting in your favourite chair, a comfortable but very enjoyable book.
'Stitch Me Deadly' is a fun, smart mystery with a great ensemble cast of characters. Really entertaining read, it’s perfect for those nights under a blanket with a hot chocolate!...more