19 November 2020

Review: THE SILENCE, Susan Allott

  • e-book made available through Libby through my local library
  • Publisher : The Borough Press (1 May 2020)
  • ASIN : B07ZG7ZT2V
  • Language: : English
  • Print length : 304 pages 


It is 1997, and in a basement flat in Hackney Isla Green is awakened by a call in the middle of the night: her father, Joe, phoning from Sydney.  

30 years ago, in the suffocating heat of summer 1967, the Greens’ next-door neighbour Mandy disappeared. Joe claims he thought she had gone to start a new life; but now Mandy’s family is trying to reconnect, and there is no trace of her. Isla’s father was allegedly the last person to see her alive, and he’s under suspicion of murder.

Back home in Sydney, Isla's search for the truth takes her back to 1967, when two couples lived side by side on a quiet street by the sea. Could her father be capable of doing something terrible? How much does her mother know? And is there another secret in this community, one which goes deeper into Australia’s colonial past, which has held them in a conspiracy of silence?

Deftly exploring the deterioration of relationships and the devastating truths we keep from those we love, The Silence is a stunning debut from a rising literary star.

My Take

It is very rare for me to read a book within 24 hours. But I have, so let that fact be testament to how much I enjoyed this book.

On the surface this mystery is about the disappearance of a young woman, essentially a cold case that a police officer hushed up, brought on by the nature of her husband's shameful job.  

This book is one of those rare combinations: crime fiction and a poke at Australia's history.  I'd love to be able to claim Susan Allott as an Australian writer, but she is British. But she has been able to bring to this novel a very significant understanding of something in Australian history that for decades people tried to gloss over.

My rating: 4.8 

About the author

Susan Allott is from the UK but spent part of her twenties in Australia, desperately homesick but trying to make Sydney her home. In 2016 she completed the Faber Academy course, during which she started writing this novel. She now lives in south London with her two children and her very Australian husband.

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