Source: Review copy
Publication: e-book 25 September; P/back 25 November 2021 from Orenda Books
My thanks to Orenda Books for an advance copy for review
Suspicion is cast on two successful crime writers, when their seven-year-old son goes missing. Are they trying to show that they can commit the perfect crime? A memserisingly twisty, dark thriller from number-one bestselling author Paul Cleave…
Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful New Zealand crime writers, happily married and topping bestseller lists worldwide. They have been on the promotional circuit for years, joking that no one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living.
So when their challenging seven-year-old son Zach disappears, the police and the public naturally wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time…
Are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime?
Electrifying, taut and immaculately plotted, The Quiet People is a chilling, tantalisingly twisted thriller that will keep you gripped and guessing to the last explosive page.
Wow! My giddy aunt, this is a rollercoaster that keeps on rolling. The Quiet People is one of those books you just don’t want to put down. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. That moment when you realise your child has gone. Possibly run away, possibly taken. It’s Lisa and Cameron Murdoch’s son Zach who disappears one night and they are frantic with worry.
We already know they love their son, and we also know he’s a difficult child, prone to outbursts that can bring a busy park to a screaming halt. Lisa and Cameron are a successful couple. They’re mid-list crime writers with a decent back catalogue and they know just how to get away with murder. Don’t they?
In Paul Cleave’s perfectly plotted mystery, the story is told from Cameron Murdoch’s perspective. Cameron’s shocked and appalled by Zach’s disappearance. He’s a frantic father and that’s not helping him to keep his cool when he’s asked difficult questions. He allows his emotions to get the better of him far too often and it’s easy for both the press and the police to see this mass of turbulent emotions as a potential threat to Zach’s life.
A minor mishap earlier in the day turns into the catalyst for a full scale onslaught onto Cameron’s credibility and fitness to be a father. That, in turn, leads to a disastrous press conference where he becomes the focus for all the attention.
Detective Inspector Rebecca Kent is in charge of leading the investigation into Zach’s disappearance. She’s thorough and methodical, but there are some disturbing aspects to this case that really don’t make sense. More and more this is not looking like a ‘standard’ abduction.
You can’t help but like Cameron. He’s emotionally driven, blames himself for not listening more closely to Zach and is ready to beat himself up at every turn. Lisa Murdoch is cooler, but sees that aligning herself with Cameron at the moment isn’t the best move and so she puts a distance between them as far as the police investigation is concerned. That’s a body blow to Cameron, who just beats himself up some more for letting Lisa down, too.
The Quiet People is everything you look for in a crime novel. It is tense, suspenseful, endlessly twisty and has characters you care about. It has a great baddie in the form of a creepy self-styled journalist with a grudge who fuels the fire against the Murdochs, taking it to social media to alert the public.
It doesn’t take much for a full on social media storm to become a public campaign calling for the arrest and incarceration of the Murdochs – now pariahs accused of every possible evil. For Detective Kent, trying to separate the wheat from the chaff, everything now is clouded by the dust storm whirling around them and they are no closer to finding Zach.
Paul Cleave’s book is delightfully full of misdirection and as he lobs ball after ball, each one more curved than the last, you find yourself second guessing everyone. The pace quickens and the heart pounds as this ride just gets more and more twisted until we’re unable to see straight.
Every time you think you’re working things out, there’s another of those balls heading for you; keeping you on the edge of your seat as a potential solution is dangled in front of you, only to be snatched away again.
I loved the contrast between the calm of Rebecca Kent and the turbulence of Cameron Murdoch. Both convinced of their own perspectives, both can make logical, persuasive arguments for their opinions, but both have diametrically opposed views. And because the reader has grown to like both characters, you can’t choose between them.
Verdict: The Quiet People is a riveting book in which every single page grasps your attention and does not let go. It manages to be shocking, heart-wrenching and suspenseful while also providing some terrific moments of dark humour to lighten the suspense. The author plays so well with concepts of right and wrong and what constitutes justice. I love that his characters have to take difficult and challenging decisions amidst ambiguity and flux. The Quiet People is everything I look for in a thriller and more. Brilliant!
Paul Cleave is an award winning author who often divides his time between his home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, where most of his novels are set, and Europe. He’s won the New Zealand Ngaio Marsh Award three times, the Saint-Maur book festival’s crime novel of the year award in France, and has been shortlisted for the Edgar and the Barry in the US and the Ned Kelly in Australia. His books have been translated into over twenty languages. He’s thrown his Frisbee in over forty countries, plays tennis badly, golf even worse, and has two cats – which is often two too many. You can find Paul on Twitter @PaulCleave, and his website is here: paulcleave.com.