Review: Under A Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes (5/5)

Tuesday 1 July 2014
The start of a thrilling new crime series featuring Detective Chief Inspector Louisa Smith from a sensational, authentic crime fiction voice.

In the crisp, early hours of an autumn morning, the police are called to investigate two deaths. The first is a suspected murder at a farm on the outskirts of a small village. A beautiful young woman has been found dead, her cottage drenched with blood. The second is a reported suicide at a nearby quarry. A car with a woman's body inside has been found at the bottom of the pit.

As DCI Louisa Smith and her team gather evidence over the course of the next six days, they discover a shocking link between the two cases and the two deaths—a bond that sealed these women's terrible fates one cold night, under a silent moon.

In this compelling new detective series, Elizabeth Haynes interweaves fictional primary source materials—police reports, phone messages, interviews—and multiple character viewpoints to create a sexy, edgy, and compulsively readable tale of murder, mystery, and unsettling suspense.

Elizabeth Haynes very kindly sent me a signed copy of this book which I was extremely thankful for. The best thing about blogging is the feedback from authors and talking with them on Twitter. The thing that drew me to this book was when I picked it up one day and saw the police documents inside. I'd never read a book which used evidence in this way as part of the book so was intrigued to see whether it would just be a gimmick or whether it adds something to the story. After finishing this book I would say it worked amazingly and is something I'd like to see done more of in the future whether by Elizabeth or somebody else.

Mine was the American version but I'll assume the UK is the same. The book is set over six days and is laid out in that way. Day One, Day Two etc with events split up by times of day. For me this was a little bit annoying as I hate putting a book down mid-chapter however I did find it a good way to split the book up at the same time so guess you can't win... The police documents are used I guess to include the reader in the investigation, add depth to the book and perhaps help us in solving the crime. They include witness statements, reports, phone conversations, press releases etc. Just all sorts of police material which makes a refreshing change from the norm in crime fiction. And it worked incredibly well, I'd say it will probably make my next crime read a bit boring! It also makes the story more authentic and makes it feel more real, as if you are following an actual case rather than something fictional. I think this is why I loved jury service so much, the evidence you see is so intriguing.

Shockingly this was my first Elizabeth Haynes novel but researching the author beforehand found me some fantastic reviews so I was eager to get stuck in. The best crime fiction novels are the ones you can liken to a jigsaw puzzle. You are given a thousand pieces and it's a struggle to put them back together but you really enjoy doing it. A suicide and a murder on the same night. It becomes clear over the course of the following hours and days these victims shared some of the same acquaintances and it's up to DCI Louisa Smith to investigate. I particularly like crime fiction books where our main character is female, Louisa was a brilliant character who I liked immensely. The plotting, writing and characterisation here simply is some of the best you will find in this genre. The twists didn't stop coming and I didn't guess half of what went on over the course of the book. Edge of your seat doesn't come close to describing how suspenseful this book was.

Hope this is the first of a long running series but even if not I'll definitely be at the front of the queue for Elizabeth's next book.

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