The Final Silence (Jack Lennon Investigations)
by Stuart Neville
Cover Artist: Jacket Photo: Andy & Michelle Kerry/Arcangel; book by Shutterstock
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Soho Crime Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616955489
Date: 28 October 2014 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
The Final Silence is Stuart Neville's best novel since his exceptional debut, The Ghosts of Belfast. What does one do when they suspect that a dead family member was once a vicious serial killer? Whether or not the killer is dead, there will be consequences to surviving members; careers could be ruined. Does one bury the truth or provide closure to the victims' relatives? Throughout the novel, heinous murders are graphically described in actual excerpts from the madman's diary. The killer was a pervert with no conscience; sometimes they stalked their victims and sometimes they indiscriminately killed random strangers, both male and female. In the present, there is another serial killer; this one isn't afraid to die because they feel they have nothing left to lose.
The reader can't help feeling sympathy for the plot's underdog, Detective Inspector Jack Lennon. He is always in the wrong place at the wrong time. His good intentions are always getting him hurt. Everyone is out to get him, especially his nemesis, Detective Chief Inspector Dan Hewitt; he is a crooked cop who hired someone to shoot Lennon. Lennon's girlfriend, Susan McKee, kicks him out of her apartment; his young daughter, Ellen, is being held against her will by his dead wife's criminal family, the McKennas; and a tough-as-nails investigator, Serena Flanagan, is determined to indict him for Rea's murder.
Lennon's only allies are his coworker, Alan Uprichard, who is a Christian, and a criminal, Roscoe Patterson, who is a pimp. Uprichard only tolerates Lennon; however, he believes Lennon is innocent. Lennon hates Patterson, who was inadvertently responsible for his wife's demise, but is desperate for his aid. While fleeing from those who wish to destroy him, Lennon must battle his addictions to alcohol and pain killers because of the numerous injuries he has suffered from past cases. In the previous novel, Stolen Souls, he was shot three times in the torso.
Lennon, like most of the characters in The Final Silence, has anger issues. An anger management psychiatrist would make a fortune treating the citizens of Belfast. Everyone is angry, especially the serial killer. Explosive anger. Explosive rage. They both lead to numerous acts of sudden, shocking violence throughout the novel. Poor Lennon is constantly taking a beating. Strangely enough, even though he isn't religious himself, I sometimes think of Lennon as a type of Christ-like figure who is always being crucified for someone else's sins. Despite what others believe, I think he is a good man. His daughter, Ellen, appears to be the only one who loves him. At least Lennon has someone; some people don't have anyone to love them.
Stuart Neville is an excellent writer. I quickly devoured the pages of The Final Silence at breakneck speed. Sentences and paragraphs flowed perfectly thanks to good grammar and punctuation; the dialogue is believable; and the characters are diverse and extremely interesting. The setting is a postwar, seemingly peaceful Belfast that still has some undercurrents of political unrest. Gruesome violence and shooting galore guarantees a fast pacing. My heart was pounding during several intense scenes when Lennon approaches the serial killer. Furthermore, the reader will become entangled in the traumatic lives of the main characters. Neville has definitely joined the ranks of outstanding writers of European noir.