Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Monday, 25 November 2013

Under A Silent Moon - Elizabeth Haynes

Needless to say, a new book from a favourite author is always something to get very excited about, and as a big fan of this author, having read and enjoyed all three of her gripping novels thus far, (Into the Darkest Corner, Revenge of the Tide, and Human Remains), I was therefore thrilled to hear about Under a Silent Moon. I grew more excited as I read that the story would comprise of a police investigation, the timespan would run over only six days, and that there would be ‘source material and evidence’ included within it, so that the reader could themselves be party to the clues that the investigation team have to hand, and thus feel involved in the story at a somewhat deeper level.

Elizabeth Haynes introduces us to DCI Louisa Smith, newly-promoted and challenged with leading her team in investigating the murder of an attractive young woman, Polly Leuchars, in the cottage she lived in, part of a local farm. It soon becomes evident that a suspected suicide of another local woman in her car at a nearby quarry may well be linked to Polly’s murder, and it’s up to the team to discover the truth behind the lies, unearth the facts and piece together the clues as to a possible connection between the two deaths. This author hasn’t shied away from darker, sordid or unscrupulous aspects of humanity and relationships in her previous novels, and neither does she here; as well as murder, there are affairs, sexual encounters, there is jealousy, desire and greed.

The novel follows the investigation as it progresses, through witness statements, interviews with witnesses and suspects, chasing up leads. What I found interesting and innovative here is that, as well as the narrative being divided up into the six days of the investigation, and within that the down to the hours and minutes of the day, witness statements, emails, telephone calls and text messages, reports and other items are also presented here within the text using different layouts/fonts and using accurate terminology, so that as I read, it felt like the information before me was very immediate and real, and that I was thoroughly involved in this story as it unfolded.

The author presents an authentic depiction of a murder investigation room, and in particular, through the character of Jason Mercer, she highlights the role of the police intelligence analyst – a role that she herself has held in her working life – in compiling reports and charts and presenting information that can be key to finding the answers in a case like this. 

As well as the police procedural elements of the tale, the story also moves between the activities of the main characters within the village who were connected to or involved with those deceased, so gradually building up a fuller picture for the reader of how everything fits together. Nothing is revealed too quickly, the intrigue is sustained so that I wanted to know just a little more about each of them in order to make my mind up as to whose loss and grief was genuine, and who was hiding something. There is development of main character DCI Louisa Smith beyond her workplace, too, though her relationships do tend to involve work colleagues. I believe that this is the start of a series, so it will be interesting to see how she develops over future novels.
Under a Silent Moon is an intricate, intelligent, well-paced crime story that kept me guessing; it was great to see Elizabeth Haynes’ take on a police procedural style novel. The author was successful in making me suspicious of a fair few of the characters from the way her story is weaved, though there are clues and pointers towards what is in fact the right track (easy for me to say looking back having finished the book and discovered the outcome though I suppose!)

An engrossing page-turner that captures human strengths, desires and weaknesses vividly; if you’re like me, you’ll want to sit back, jump in, and not leave your seat until the end!

Source - review copy
Publisher - Sphere - available now as an ebook with print copies due in April 2014.
Follow the author on twitter @elizjhaynes #Underasilentmoon and visit her website here.
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Pamreader | Crime Fiction Lover | Random Things | Liz Loves Books | Cleopatra Loves Books


  1. I was a little disappointed when I saw this was the start of a police procedural series after loving the standalones, but this does sound good, and I particularly like the idea of the timeline.

    1. I see what you mean Jane. I have loved each book from this author so far and liked that they were standalone stories. It is exciting to see the start of a character with potential to develop though, and the timelime added tension and excitement for me. I do hope you enjoy it.

  2. Great review, and such high praise for what sounds like a totally enjoyable read.

    1. Thanks Tracy, it was a good and enjoyable story with potential for a series.

  3. Oh this sounds excellent. Like Jane I love standalones but I'm willing to give this a try. And you reminded me that I still got some of her older books to read.

  4. It's funny, I was desperate to read Into The Darkest Corner after reading so many great reviews of it, but as soon as I got my hands on a copy the desire to read it just evaporated and it has been sitting unloved on my shelf for ages! Must give it a go soon. This sounds great - I do love a police procedural, and the idea of having evidence and reports included sounds really interactive and fun. I recently read Night Film by Marisha Pessl which does a similar thing and it works really well.


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