The Silenced – Stephen Lloyd Jones

There’s a dead man in Mallory’s bathroom. She knows, because she just killed him – or at least she hopes she did, and the the last thing she wants to do is to have to go and make sure. In her defence, the man had come to kill her, and it’s quite possible that he didn’t come alone. Will his accomplice be waiting at the front door or the back door – or is he already in the townhouse where she has lived alone these last few years, trying to remain anonymous?

Grim, gory and gripping from the outset, if Mallory Grace makes it through the opening chapter of Stephen Lloyd Jones’ new supernatural thriller, The Silenced, it can be taken as a small victory, and she will need many more and all the scant resources she can lay her hands on along with every scrap of training she has received and a lot of luck to make it through the night and out of London.

One of the last of the Arayıcı, an ancient and almost extinct bloodline, the man in her bathroom was a Vasi assassin, the same as the ones who had come years before for Mallory, her parents and her sister in their mountain hideout; Mallory was the only one to escape then, and having finally tracked her the Vasi will continue to hunt her until she is dead.

Across the country, a reclusive surfer tends the animals at a remote wildlife shelter; far from the city and the people he cannot be around he thinks West Penwith will offer him similar sanctuary until the men arrive in the middle of the night. Alterted to their presence by the animals he cares for, Obadiah Macintosh evades the gunmen but can see no reason for anyone to target him, unless it has something to do with that girl he met three weeks earlier, Mallory…

From urban thriller to rural manhunt, The Silenced is a well-paced page turner, both bloody and bloody good, and while the purpose of the Vasi is not clear beyond the immediately obvious, to find Mallory and terminate her and any other Arayıcı by any means necessary, which with their greater numbers and resources should not present too much of a problem, that they have one is.

In his fourth novel Jones writes with assurance, his knowledge of weapons, anatomy and geography as sharp as his grasp on the driven and fiercely independent Mallory, certain of the direction his narrative is headed and carrying the reader along for a frenzied ride; while Obe is at first written more broadly, a standard comic book and science fiction nerd suddenly in over his head, his character surfacing more slowly, he does become similarly vital.

What is less defined is the Vasi, why the philosophy with which they have indoctrinated their followers is so compelling that they offer complete and obsessive devotion, never becoming more than a generic apocalyptic death cult, well-connected and financed but intangible and vague, their threat solely mediated by their ubiquity and the uncompromising nihilism of their mantra post violentiam, silentium: after violence, silence.

Despite never breaking out of the extended cat-and-mouse pursuit across the country and onto the continent the momentum of The Silenced is sufficient to carry it and Jones conveys the necessary urgency and desperation as well as occasional moments of a more calming silence, hidden in the woods or riding the waves, offering Mallory, Obe and the reader just enough hope to keep going.

The Silenced is available now in eBook and from 19th April in paperback from Headline



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