The Finale Silence

Written by Stuart Neville

Review written by Michael Jecks

The Finale Silence
Harvill Secker
RRP: £12.99
Released: July 17th, 2014

It is vanishingly rare for me to review books overly fulsomely. I have read, in my time, some absolutely awful books. Three I have reviewed honestly. None, I don't think, will have affected the incomes of the writers. One, after all, was James Patterson, and I do not think he has suffered too much.

Mostly, my gripes have to do with the excessive violence in much of what passes for modern crime. I do not like it. I see no need for it. I think it is possible that such extreme violence in literature could foster an acceptance of violence, of sexual abuse and even, in some cases, potentially of murder; but that's not why I dislike it. I just don't like to read in pornographic detail about the evisceration of a victim. It doesn't do it for me and I don't think it's necessary.

When I hit a novel with such a plot, I prefer to not review it. Other people will enjoy it, no doubt, and my own preferences for less atrocious depiction of brutality is not a measure for other people. If I like a book, I'll say so; if I don't, I won't. That way, you, the reader, will always know when I do like a book. I'll have written about it. If I don't like it, you'll see nothing about it from me.

Why the long preamble?

It's mainly because I'm sitting at my desk at midnight, trying to think of a new way to describe this book.

I almost put it down on page umpty ump, when a really nasty detail was brought to my attention. A young woman, going through the belongings of her uncle, finds a large scrap book, almost an album, but this has locks of hair and fingernails pasted inside. It's a catalogue of victims.

She put the book down and ran to wash her hands, but I didn't put it down. I had said I'd review this one, so I continued. And am I ever glad I did.

This writer is that rare thing: a fresh, inventive, imaginative (I hope) portrayer of real life characters. He has an uncanny ability to get inside the head of women as well as his men. In a few words he can bring even this callused crime author close to tears as he writes about a woman who is diagnosed with cancer, and again a page or two later, when another woman suffers shocking physical abuse from her husband.

It's not only woman: he can climb inside the mind of a crooked Northern Irish politician, the mind of a massively damaged police officer who is suffering from post-traumatic stress, a pimp … I shudder to think what sort of background Stuart has had!

His characters are all entirely consistent, believable, and set down with clarity and precision. No one was perfect; there were a lot of imperfect people trying to do their best. However, all were sucked into the main plot, which bucketed along so convincingly and with such style that, as I reached the last pages, I was left sitting on a train with the book in my hands and my mouth hanging open.

This is an excellent crime book, no, it's a shatteringly brilliant crime book. I have not had the same pleasure since reading Angels Flight, the first Michael Connelly I ever read. If you like crime with an edge, crime with violence, certainly, but without unnecessary sadism, this is for you.

I rarely say this: go out and buy it. I am going to have to buy all this guy's earlier books. He really is that good.

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