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The Silent Girls by Eric Rickstad
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The Silent Girls

by Eric Rickstad

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I tried but I just don't care about these people ( )
  joanalau | Oct 1, 2017 |
Good story, just enough tension to keep it interesting. The author lost me a bit when he referred to the geese in the story as Canadian geese. Geese are not citizens of Canada and therefore cannot be Canadian. They are Canada geese~end rant~. ( )
  Maureen_McCombs | Aug 19, 2016 |
A girl goes missing and Frank Rath is called in to solve the mystery. A former police detective who quit to raise his niece after his sister and brother in-law were found murdered. Now as a side activity he helps solve crimes the police can’t. As he investigates the missing girl he realizes this case is much deeper than it first appears and involves more than one missing girl; a string of girls that all have one thing in common despite many other differences. His problem now, finding who did it and where the girls are being kept. Intriguing story of how one selfish act can alter another person for life and sometimes create a psychopath. ( )
  vibrantminds | Dec 17, 2015 |
Frank Rath, ex-detective turned private investigator, is drawn into the intriguing mystery surrounding Mandy Wilks, an emancipated sixteen-year-old who is missing. As the investigation progresses, several other girls are added to the “missing” list, but Frank can see no obvious connection between the young women and the elusive “why” that would link the girls remains unknown.
Despite considerable distracting personal baggage, Frank remains focused on the investigation, doggedly searching for answers in the desperate hope of finding Mandy alive.

The increasingly-complex plot involving the missing girls easily draws the reader into the story, and this decidedly creepy tale probably has more than enough twists and turns to satisfy aficionados of the genre. However, the unrelated and unnecessary Ned Preacher subplot detracts from the missing girls storyline; similarly, both the lack of plot resolution and the reveal regarding Mandy’s disappearance are particularly unsatisfying.

The author’s exquisite descriptions are richly drawn, providing the reader with an authentic sense of place. But the annoying overuse of expletives and religious/political viewpoints masquerading as storytelling are likely to be extremely offensive to many readers. In addition, the unexpected, out of left field no-ending-ending is decidedly off-putting, apt to leave frustrated readers feeling as if they have been cheated. ( )
  jfe16 | May 28, 2015 |
In the very small (to me) town of Canaan in northern Vermont Frank Rath is an ex-cop turned private investigator. When the Police Chief is on leave Frank is asked by the town’s lone police detective for some assistance with an awkward missing persons case. Mandy Wilks is only 16 so the report from her mother that she has disappeared would normally generate a formal investigation but Mandy is emancipated which means she is, legally, an adult and her disappearance cannot be looked into until the requisite number of days have elapsed. Frank, with some assistance his police colleagues, soon discovers there is more than one missing girl from their area and they begin to piece together a rather alarming reason for these incidents.

THE SILENT GIRLS starts brutally enough for me to be concerned this was going to be one of those books where violence masquerades as plot. Happily though the rather confronting opening makes way for a nuanced story that quickly engaged me and subsequent violence is relatively minimal. The story is complex – with multiple threads unfolding in parallel – but not fussily complicated. The procedural elements of the case are handled well, enabling the solution to be revealed credibly, and when the reasons for the disappearances start to become apparent the novel takes on an almost gothic sensibility which suits the content. In addition to the investigation there is a significant thread involving Frank’s personal life as we learn why he adopted and raised his niece as his own daughter and what present-day events might have a bearing on the horrific episode from his family’s past.

Rickard has done a great job creating an evocative picture of rural, mountainous Vermont. A rugged sensibility depicting a place that only certain kinds of individuals can survive – let alone thrive in – infuses the whole book but my favourite passage is this early one

As soon as the sightseers crossed into the land where billboards were banned for their affront to nature’s aesthetics, they settled into their heated leather seats, bathed in a Rockwellian serenity and liberated from the gray grind of urban life. They’d power down their windows to breathe in the crisp mountain air, buoyed and intoxicated by the setting and by a pang of nostalgia for a past they’d never lived but could taste on their tongues nonetheless. Here, the air was sweeter. Here, they were alive. Safe. (chapter 3)

Rath then goes on to scoff at the idea that his rural setting is somehow immune to the violence and harm that human beings can do to each other. Indeed. As a bonus that passage is also an indication of Rickard’s writing style which is above average for a crime novel that is at times pulp-y in tone.

My only criticism of the novel is that the ending jarred and I wish the entire epilogue (which includes my least favourite trope of modern crime thrillers) didn’t exist but this is so common an occurrence these days I often forget to comment on it so I suppose I can’t be too harsh. Clearly my expectations for novel endings are completely out of step with almost everyone else’s and I just have to come to grips with this reality. Other than this THE SILENT GIRLS has well-drawn, multi-faceted characters, a compelling narrative and an enveloping (if not particularly inviting) physical environment. Definitely recommended.
  bsquaredinoz | Jan 15, 2015 |
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Frank Rath thought he was done with murder when he turned in his detective's badge to become a private investigator and raise a daughter alone. Then the police in his remote rural community of Canaan find an '89 Monte Carlo abandoned by the side of the road, and the beautiful teenage girl who owned the car seems to have disappeared without a trace. Soon Rath's investigation brings him face-to-face with the darkest abominations of the human soul.… (more)

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