"Do you like jigsaw puzzles? Are you such a fanatic that you sometimes turn all the pieces over and solve the puzzle 'upside down' with no sample picture to guide you? If so, you'll love this book. Especially if you are into Noir-type stories teeming with seedy underworld characters, good movie-script dialogue, and settings so realistic you can smell them-- and wish you hadn't.
Sam Harper is a Narcotics Detective. Under very strange circumstances, his partner, Gillies, is gunned down right in front of his eyes. Sam's boss, Captain Holloway, transfers Sam to the Homicide Unit, seemingly to keep Sam from going on a vendetta against the drug pusher who shot Gillies. But not all is as it seems. In fact, almost nothing is as it seems. And thereby hangs this convoluted tale.
Sam's first Homicide case involves the very old corpse of a tiny baby which comes to light, buried in a wall, when a building is being demolished. [Hence the book's title and the haunting cover photo.] He spends hours of overtime, and more energy than he can afford, trying to solve this 'cold' case. Along the way, he argues with his dad, breaks up with his girlfriend, fights another (but incompetent) cop, and, much against his will, breaks in a new partner to replace the one who died.
There are thus a multitude of sub-plots, but they never get in the way of Sam's twin obsessions-- to solve the baby's murder and to get even with the guy who killed Sam's partner.
It will come as no surprise to the astute reader, and is therefore not a Spoiler, that the two apparently unrelated cases are in fact as related as two cases could ever get.
Sam Harper is lovingly drawn, with great detail, by this artist of an author. Every character, even the most minor, gets plenty of matching attention. Everyone comes to life, even if you sometimes find yourself wishing that the most heinous ones would meet their doom sooner rather than later. (But that would spoil the story!)
Another great strength of this volume is the author's 'ear' for clever yet realistic dialogue. My favorite exchange is this one, between a really nasty bad guy and the protaganist:
"I know my rights."
"You should. Somebody's been reading them to you since you were twelve."
On last strong point to mention: Some 'cheater' type readers like to look at the last page first, to find out who the villain is before starting the book. That won't work in this case. We find out who the 'bad guy' is approximately fifty pages before the end. And yet Stephens manages to keep the surprises coming unabated right on up into the last chapter. And there's nothing on the last page that can give anything away-- unless you've read the rest of the book!
The author has promised that this book is the first of a series.
I can hardly wait for the next installment." Len B review as posted on Amazon
“... There is a neat new group of mystery authors emerging, and Marta Stephens is smack dab in the middle of them. Do yourself a favor and get on board this train. This is an amazing debut from a rising mystery star.”
“… Tight suspense, perfectly chosen verbs, natural and innovative beats, and authentic dialog propel this work to a level far beyond those works commonly found on the best sellers list. Stephens’ writing soars with focused intensity …”
Aaron Paul Lazar, author of LeGarde Mystery Series for Midwest Book Reviews
“… First in a planned series, let’s hope those plans materialize. Recommended.”
Jack Quick, Bookbitch Review
“Marta Stephens is a master crime novelist. She knows how to spin a complex, credible, action-packed and gripping story with plot, subplot and more subplot. Every page crackles with intrigue, questions, and clues! … a superb crime novel!”
Viviane Crystal, Crystal Reviews
“Silenced Cry is an intense, fast-paced read that you will quickly devour.”
Jennifer Luzader, Muncie Public Library
“Silenced Cry is a convoluted and complex story that demonstrates a vivid imaginative gift on the part of author Marta Stephens. It is common to speak of a mystery as being complex and possessing numerous plot twists and turns; but rare to find a novel quite as complex as this one. Truly, Stephens delivers a winner of high promise in Silenced Cry, a story whose truths will linger long in the mind.”
“If you are looking for a novel ripe with twists and turns and intricate interweaving of plots, Silenced Cry is a novel for you. This is a classic detective story that is detailed, intricate, and full of surprises.”
Nicole M Boals, Armchair Interviews
“… Fast paced and full of more twists and turns than a new rollercoaster … I now have a new favorite ride.”
Jake George, author of Grandfather’s Song and A New Dawn