Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Quiet Child by John Burley

Kerry Hammond takes us back to 1954 with a review of John Burley’s latest novel.

Yesterday we reviewed Rear Window, Alfred Hitchock’s 1954 classic film. What a coincidence that John Burley’s latest book The Quiet Child, which was released on August 8 by William Morrow, also takes place in 1954. This is Burley’s third book, all of them standalone novels of suspense. I read and enjoyed The Forgotten Place, and it made me eager to try the author’s latest novel.

The story takes place in the small town of Cottonwood, California and follows one family through a series of tragedies that culminates in the kidnapping of their two young sons. Cottonwood is a town full of despair. It has seen more than its fair share of illness, heartache, and death. The residents don’t think this is a coincidence, though. They blame a 6-year-old boy, Danny McCray, who hasn’t spoken a single word in his short life. A quiet child whose peculiarity breeds suspicion and blame.  

Danny’s own family isn’t immune to whatever plagues the town, and his mother is slowly dwindling away from a fatal disease. Keeping the family together falls on his father, until one day on his watch both Danny and his ten-year-old brother Sean are kidnapped. What follows is a search for the boys, with only their father and local law enforcement who really want their safe return.

The book was eerie and I had a hard time putting it down. I wouldn’t call it a mystery, but there were definitely elements of suspense and a twist or two. It really makes the reader think about the choices we make and brings up the question of what we might do in a similar situation. I think it also solidifies the concept that no matter what decision you make at any given time, there are consequences. Whether you can move on and accept those consequences is another matter. It's the kind of book that stays with you past the turn of the final page.

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