Silenced Cry by Marta Stephens is a solid and engaging bit of fiction, and the author is certainly a convincing new voice in crime fiction. Her book carries on the fine tradition of the police crime novel, and I enjoyed it very much.
Ms. Stephens leads the reader deftly through a sordid, tangled mess of an investigation as a long-forgotten child murder case is unexpectedly exposed. Detective Sam Harper is plunged into the messy circumstances, sorting through the investigation’s flimsy evidence while dealing with a new partner. Swirling around the edges are the long reaching ramifications of his old partner’s death and his own thorny attitude on recent events in his life.
“Day three. One clue and no leads. Finding the person responsible for the baby’s death after more than a decade seemed nearly improbable.”
There are no surprises twists or unexpected shocks in the pages of Silenced Cry; it is a fairly straightforward crime novel, with a genuine plot and just the right amount of gripping tension. However, the story-telling is elevated above the average by superb characterization and a believable narrative atmosphere. It is part police procedural, part noir, touched around the periphery with the realistic ugliness of crime, and the complexity of human interaction.
“Owen looked up. The clouds slowly parted to reveal a scattering of stars against the moonless backdrop of the April night. Behind him stretched a row of dumpsters shoved against the wall of the savings and loan. A sour stench rose from them and mingled with the pungent odor of piss from whoever had christened the alley wall.” Silenced Cry is the first entry in a series; I’m truly looking forward to the next book. I absolutely want to spend more time immersed in the world of Sam Harper.
Marta Stephens holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism/Public Relations from Ball State University, and is a member of Sisters in Crime International, Sisters in Crime Speed City Indiana Chapter, and the Midwest Writer's Workshop. Her website is at http://www.martastephens-author.com/ Silenced Cry won Honourable Mention in the 2008 New York Book Festival, and is available at Amazon and other online retailers. Check out Marta Stephens’ website, http://www.martastephens-author.com/buy_%20it.html for purchase details.
The second book in the Harper series, THE DEVIL CAN WAIT, will be released by BeWrite Books (UK) on November 3, 2008. Look for it in both trade paperback and e-book formats. Marta Stephens is currently working on the third book in the Harper series.