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Kimberly Derting – Dead Silence

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It’s been closer to home, now it’s at home.

Publisher: Headline (Hachette)
Pages: 389
Type: Fiction
Age: Young Adult
ISBN: 978-0-7553-8917-9
First Published: 16th April 2013
Date Reviewed: 9th May 2013
Rating: 4.5/5

Violet has recovered from her ordeal and still has the echo to prove it. But it won’t be long before she’s back to using her abilities. There’s to be two additions at school, making life complicated, and Violet never has been able to listen when people tell her to phone for help rather than investigate a crime scene herself.

Dead Silence is the fourth book in The Body Finder series. Derting is as good as ever, Violet is as strong as ever, the romance includes all those details and questioning you wish other YA books would include, and the series has got ever more unapologetic and mature as Violet gets older. As always Derting never shies from the gruesome truth, and in fact Dead Silence has some gruesome information about related subjects, too.

This time the story is more involved with the characters directly. Not that the series was ever lacking in either character development or plot (indeed Derting balances character and plot-driven nicely) but this time there is a little more focus on Violet and her friends for good reason – the setting doesn’t move so much between her ‘factions’ and there is reason to concentrate on her home and school life whereas before the concentration needed to be on the cases. And this, even though the crimes are just as thought-out and included. There is also a lot more back story as to the history of abilities, as well as insights into the mysterious Dr Lee.

Derting has focused on crimes that are fuelled by motives that have become very ‘every day’. She does provide lessons and suggestions for her readers but she also looks at the other side (in other words the book does not preach because of the basic structure of the books – the switch between Violet and the killer). Again ‘balance’ is the word of the day – the crimes are bad, like the other books, but there is a particular humanity in Derting’s portrayal of the killer’s life that demonstrates how upbringing has a lot to answer for. It does not excuse the crime, but puts it in terms that fit Violet’s life – gruesome, but not so far away that Violet, nor Derting, nor the reader, could put it in a box and move on. It might be a closed case now, because Derting doesn’t continue a crime beyond one book, but the way Derting has approached it means that it is poignant nonetheless, and perhaps the ultimate in showing rather than telling.

Violet makes a choice in this book to tell another person of her abilities. Her choice may not please everyone due to the way the person reacts, but it does bring a new element into the story, keeping it fresh, and one assumes Derting knows how this choice might affect her books as she uses it to a particular end.

The only thing that holds the book back is the writing; it’s not bad but it lacks Derting’s previous continuous strength, and there are some grammatical errors that aren’t the sort you would expect editors to pick up – they are style errors. There are also a couple of occasions where Derting is either too contemporary (regarding the way the back story is presented) or uses particular slang as her writer’s voice. These are generally ‘niggles’ but collectively they do faze the book.

Nevertheless, Dead Silence is a must-read. It could possibly be read as a stand-alone but it would be difficult for the reader to fully appreciate what Derting has created. For the faithful follower, it may just be the best yet.

I received this book for review from Headline.

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Belle Wong

July 12, 2013, 4:38 am

I haven’t read this series yet, Charlie, but your review has me very intrigued. I’m going to give the first book in the series a try. I think the only thing that might put me off is what you mentioned about Violet not wanting to call for help but plunging straight into the crime scene herself – I think I’d prefer it if she did call for help first and then investigated the crime scene before help arrived!

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