Wednesday, March 28, 2012

YA Edgar Nominee Review: The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall

My last read for the Edgar nominees for best YA is The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall. This one was darker than the others at the opening: we're sitting in the court room with Hope while her brother Jeremy is on trial for murder. Not your light YA fare.

Against her better judgement, Hope testifies to their rough childhood so Jeremy, who no longer speaks, can be declared insane. In dark and clipped prose--my favorite--we learn that their mother is an unfit one, and an alcoholic too. But Hope (as her name implies) doesn't give up, and keeps looking for evidence to clear her brother's name. We delve deep into family history, small-town scandals, so the only way this mystery will be solved is by opening every can of worms.

This story was gripping, and the author didn't pull any punches when it came to the stakes. The resolution was a bit over-staged, but why not--I was right there as Hope revealed the killer. My only gripe was with the at times heavy religious message and quoting of scripture, particularly toward the end. It made the resolution very moralizing, and took away from the great grit this mystery has. Still, solid plotting, and a good murder mystery.

Verdict: a good mystery, could appeal to both boys and girls. Some religious overtones.

Mystery Quotient: 5 out of 5. Plotting a bit on the stretchy side, but done with heart.

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