Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review: Under a Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes

Under a Silent Moon (DCI Louisa Smith, Book #1)
by Elizabeth Haynes
Release Date: April 15th 2014
2014 Harper
Hardcover Edition; 368 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062276025
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Suspense
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

In the crisp, early hours of an autumn morning, the police are called to investigate two deaths. The first is a suspected murder at a farm on the outskirts of a small village. A beautiful young woman has been found dead, her cottage drenched with blood. The second is a reported suicide at a nearby quarry. A car with a woman's body inside was found at the bottom of the pit.

As DCI Louisa Smith and her team gather evidence, they discover a shocking link between the two cases and the two deaths-a bond that sealed their terrible fates one cold night, under a silent moon.

My Thoughts 
Under a Silent Moon is the first book in a new series featuring DCI Louisa Smith.  I had really enjoyed Into the Darkest Corner and was looking forward to the psychological suspense that I had encountered in that novel.  Under a Silent Moon attempts to be suspenseful and complicated, with twists and turns that may trick a reader not used to reading mystery novels, but for me, I felt the book tried too hard to be tricky and because of this, felt a bit flat and mundane.

Haynes works as a police intelligence analyst and what she attempted to do in this novel was show the more behind the scenes work of intelligence gathering of a crime scene.  I think that we are so inundated with shows like CSI and Criminal Minds that we often forget that police crime investigations can be rather slow and humdrum, with many different people involved rather than just the main inspectors.  This is what this book was trying to show; the rather important work of an intelligence analyst.  And while I definitely appreciate the work, and I definitely found it interesting, I'm not sure if the reports injected into the book actually worked as I thought they were somewhat repetitive and slowed down the pace of the novel. I didn't have an objection to the analyzing; I just thought that if the author wanted to focus on the analyst side of things, maybe she should have made Jason (the analyst) the main character as it would have been interesting to have everything focus around him.  Otherwise, keep the analyzing to the background and focus on the work of the inspectors. 

There was an interesting mix of characters, but to be honest, I could do without Andy Hamilton.  The author kept stressing how good of a cop he was, but personally, I just didn't see it in this novel.  Unfortunately, I can't mention too much about the events surrounding him or I will give away an important plot point, but I wasn't overly impressed with him at all; his carelessness almost cost him his life and the case.  Louisa Smith, the DCI, attempts to be tough, but I didn't see a lot of that in this novel.  I really liked her in this novel, but to be in the position she is in, I would imagine she would have to grow a set, and she seemed a bit soft to me.  I understand this was the first case the actually led, but she would have been involved in other cases in order to be in the position she was in.  She just seems so naive and trusting for a DCI.  I am curious to see how both of these characters develop in future novels.  I did like the camaraderie amongst the other police officers and the banter though; some of the dialogue was fun and witty, and I enjoyed it. 

The book is a rather quick read, and because I am familiar with her other books, I felt the psychological suspense was rather lacking in comparison.  I also thought the clues were rather glaring this time round, and the fact the police missed them actually bothered me as they were rather in your face clues and not subtle ones at all.  There were definitely a lot of subplots in this one, and not all of them were actually resolved so I am curious as to whether some of them will reappear in future novels or if they will just drop off the radar.  I rather hope not as I know one of them will nag at me for some time if it is just dropped, especially as the author went to a lot of trouble to randomly throw in reports about the subject and it really didn't have anything to do with the actual plot in the end.  I hate loose ties!!

Under a Silent Moon was a well-written police procedural that tried a bit too hard to be twisty and tricky.  And while I definitely enjoyed the analyst side of things, I constantly felt like there was a conflict between the analyzing and the inspecting, the balance of the two not having been found.  Because of this, I really felt the psychological suspense was rather lacking in this one in comparison to her other novels and the book felt a bit flat to me overall.  There is a lot of room for her characters to develop though, so I am curious as to what will happen in the next book, Behind Closed Doors.