Title: The Silent Speak by Val Collins
Publisher: VCB Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Thriller
Length: 214 pages
“There’s a lunatic out there who butchered five innocent people and nobody is looking for him.”
Aoife Walsh has plenty keeping her busy—finalising her divorce from her manipulative husband, settling into her still-new relationship with Detective Conor Moloney, and trying to win the trust of his teenage son. So for the moment, her fledgeling career as a freelance journalist has been put on hold.
Then comes the horrific news that an entire family has been slaughtered in their own home. Aoife is shocked to discover two of the victims were members of her on-again-off-again book club. Even more disturbing is the revelation that the police believe it was a murder-suicide.
That’s when Aoife receives a tantalising offer. Lisa, the main suspect’s sister, will grant Aoife access to the victims’ extended family for an exclusive news story—if Aoife will help find the real killer. Moved by Lisa’s unwavering belief in her brother’s innocence, Aoife agrees to help.
As she digs into the secrets of her fellow book club members, Aoife discovers potential suspects everywhere: people having affairs, a jealous husband, and a power-hungry business partner who’s clearly hiding something.
Aoife keeps pulling at the threads of the story, untangling more and more deception. Is the killer really dead and buried? Is it someone Aoife already knows? Could the lunatic be closer than Aoife ever imagined?
You won’t be able to put down this twisty thriller from international bestselling author Val Collins.
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Did you speak to Detective Moloney?’
‘Thank you. When will he meet with me?’
‘He’s not going to meet with you, Lisa. As I said, he’s on holidays for a few weeks.’
‘What? Didn’t you tell him—’
‘I told him exactly what you said. Conor understands why you believe your brother is innocent, but he says all the evidence points to Shane’s guilt.’
‘But that just means the murderer did a very good job of covering his tracks.’
The waitress arrived with a large plate of sandwiches and two coffees. Aoife pushed the plate towards Lisa. ‘You need to eat.’
Lisa shook her head. ‘There’s something the police missed. There has to be.’
‘Do you know that the note was in Shane’s handwriting?’
‘Somebody obviously forced him to write it.’
‘And you know Shane didn’t have any defensive wounds? Do you think he would have allowed his attacker to cut his wrists without making any attempt to defend himself?’
‘He must have been tied up.’
‘There are no rope marks. No signs of restraint at all. There’s not even one other scratch on his body. Everybody else…’ She couldn’t bring herself to finish the sentence.
‘Their throats were cut, I know that, and you think a murderer would have cut Shane’s throat as well but, don’t you see, the murder wanted it to look like Shane killed his family. That’s why his wrists were cut.’
‘Forensics are positive Shane cut his own wrists. Apparently they can tell from the angle and the depth of the cut.’
‘Either they’re wrong or the murderer figured out a way to fool them.’ When Aoife didn’t reply, she said, ‘Do you have brothers or sisters?’
Aoife shook her head.
‘Well, if you did, you would understand what I’m saying. I grew up with Shane. I knew him before he learned to hide the less acceptable facets of his personality. I know what he’s capable of.’
‘People change. Life happens, we grow up, we become different people.’
‘People’s attitudes and beliefs change. Their basic nature doesn’t. And anyway, I moved in with Shane after my relationship broke up. I lived with them for almost three months while I looked for a place of my own. I’d only moved out two weeks before the murder, and we all had dinner in my mother’s house the weekend before. Shane was perfectly normal on Sunday. You’re telling me he had turned into a homicidal maniac by Thursday? That isn’t possible.’
‘I know it’s hard to accept, but—’
‘I can’t accept it because it isn’t true. I don’t know how the murderer managed to fool the forensic guys, but I am absolutely certain that Shane didn’t kill anybody.’
‘I don’t know what to say, Lisa.’
‘I need you to understand.’ Lisa sipped her coffee, then put the mug down with a clatter. ‘It’s like this. Shane worked for my uncle. My uncle has this big firm that employs an entire sales department, but Shane and my cousin are his top salespeople. They’re both outgoing and can talk to anyone, but the difference between them is that Shane has a genuine interest in people. He loves everyone and wants to help them. My cousin is only interested in making money.’
‘I don’t see what this—’
‘The point I’m trying to make is I know my cousin almost as well as I know Shane. Keith spent most of his summers in our house when we were kids, and from as far back as I can remember, he was selfish and sly. He’d steal my toys, pinch me when nobody was looking and get me into trouble any chance he got. He hid that side of himself from the adults and, as he grew older, he learned to hide it from everybody. He’s conned people into thinking he’s a great person, but I know his basic nature. He’s not a nice guy. He never was and he never will be. I doubt he’d murder his wife or his kids, but I’d be prepared to consider it as a possibility. I know Shane even better and it simply isn’t in him.’ She swallowed. ‘It wasn’t in him.’
‘Even if you’re right, Lisa, there’s nothing Conor can do to help. He takes his job very seriously and he’s investigated everything thoroughly. The evidence just isn’t there.’
Lisa reached for her coffee and took a sip. ‘I asked around about you and I looked you up. I read the article you wrote about your father-in-law’s murder. You were the one who solved that case, not the police.’
‘I got lucky.’
‘It was more than luck. Aoife, I need your help. If the police can’t prove Shane’s innocence, I need you to do it.’
‘What? No! I’m a journalist, not a detective.’
‘You solved one case, you can solve this one.’
‘No, Lisa. I’m sorry. I can’t. I wouldn’t even know where to begin and I can’t get involved in a case that Conor is investigating. I could get him into serious trouble.’
‘But he’s not investigating it. That’s the whole point. He’s decided Shane is the murderer.’
‘Conor says the investigation is ongoing. There are a few loose ends they need to tie up.’
‘What loose ends?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘You said Detective Moloney’s on holiday. Start your investigation by talking to his replacement and follow up with him. You don’t need to involve Detective Moloney at all.’
Val Collins is the author of the award-winning psychological thriller GIRL TARGETED, the international bestseller ONLY LIES REMAIN and her new release THE SILENT SPEAK. All three books feature heroine Aoife Walsh.
A native of Ireland, Val began reading at the age of three and still devours books at the rate of one per week. Her favourite authors range from Philippa Gregory and Sophie Kinsella to Lee Child and Linwood Barclay.
Author Links: Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads * Instagram
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