Silent Victim by Caroline Mitchell tells the story of Emma. She was abused by her teacher when young, eventually killing him and burying him in the garden. Unfortunately her husband has now got a new job and they have to move, meaning her secret is about to be discovered.
Silent Victim was a superb read that kept me gripped to the end. The story is told not only from the point of view of Emma, but also her husband Alex and Luke the ‘victim’. The chapters from each characters point of view slip between present and past as we learn about the crime and its consequences. I am a fan of an unreliable narrator and this certainly has that. Whilst you clearly want to feel sorry for Emma it is not always easy. As a child she struggled with an ailing father and a deep sense of isolation which makes her incredibly vulnerable. Yet the grown up Emma is harder to like and I found some of her actions incredibly frustrating. Those chapters where we hear from Luke as her teacher make for uncomfortable reading at times and I felt that the story tackled the issues of both abuse and eating disorders very well.
This was a good quick read that I really enjoyed. This is the first of Caroline’s novels that I have read however she has an impressive back catalogue of crime fiction. If they are all as good as this one I can’t wait to delve into them.
Read on for an extract from Silent Victim.
Betrayal had a smell, it would be that of tar – the kind that sticks to your shoes in the heat of midsummer and bubbles like a living thing on the road. Emma and I had offered each other weary smiles as we pretended everything was all right. I had shrugged off her concerns that someone had invaded our home, tapping on the window while I was away. She must have imagined it. How could this be possible, when Luke had been in the pub with me that night? I felt sick at the thought – and at the prospect of what I was about to do. Involving our son in our troubles was the last thing I wanted, but I desperately needed to know the truth. Jamie squealed with delight as I lifted him in the air, pretending to drop him, only to take him in my arms again. I inhaled the scent of liquorice shoelaces on his breath, allowed only on the condition that he brush his teeth afterwards. Plopping him on our bathroom counter, I wore my best smile. I had locked the door. Emma would be horrified if she knew what I was about to do. But then how many times had she visited our little bathroom to force herself to vomit when she had eaten just minutes before? The scent of lemon bleach and floral air freshener gave her away every time. If only the rest of her secrets were as easily deciphered. Reaching across the counter, I carried out my own form of betrayal.