Andrew Taylor – A Stain on the Silence

Stain Andrew Taylor’s latest novel is one of psychological suspense.  More than that; it’s also a fascinating exploration into the minds of teenagers and the transition from child to adult.  Unlike his previous novels this one is firmly set in the present; the flashbacks or reminiscences being some twenty plus years ago.  Taylor’s perceptive eye on culture, the way we live and the nature of relationships is as keen and detailed in the contemporary setting as it is for the 1950s in his wonderful Lydmouth series.

This is a story about families and friends and secrets.  As the story unfolds, each secret revealed like a petal falling from a flower until finally we reach the core and the biggest secret of all and the impact it had on all concerned.

I started the book expecting a leisurely read but finished it in three sittings.  And oh to be a fly on the wall in Chipping Weston when the final secret’s out!

In a nutshell: James is happily enjoying his life but one day he receives a call from a woman he knew in his youth.  Lily tells him that she’s dying of cancer and that, as the result of their union twenty four years ago, James has a daughter.  Lily then asks for James’s assistance, as he is the only person who can help their daughter now.  Their pregnant daughter is on the run, fearing that the police are about to knock on her door to accuse her of murder…

A pacey read, we, like James, do not know whose story to trust.  And like James’s wife, we wonder just what James himself is hiding … altogether.  Many twists line the route to the final resolution and a brilliantly inspired ending.

Finally, how wonderful it was to be reading words I have not heard uttered for years.  As modern culture in the UK sees us moving ever more to convenience foods, this novel had me thinking that the same applies to the English language.  We used to treat it with respect; now it’s merely there for our convenience.  Taylor reminds us that it is also there to be savoured, should we accept the invitation.