Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Silence of Murder

Mystery: The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall

1. Mackall, D.D. (2011). The silence of murder. New York, NY: Ember.
2. Summary:Raised by an alcoholic mother, Hope Long’s life has not been the easiest, but it gets a lot harder when her brother, Jeremy, goes on trial for the murder of a beloved baseball coach. Jeremy has autism and has not spoken in twelve years. With the town convinced of Jeremy’s guilt, it is up to Hope and her two friends, T.J. and Chase, to unravel the clues and sift through the secrets to prove Jeremy’s innocence.
3. Critical Analysis: The Silence of Murder is Dandi Daley Mackall’s first mystery novel. It has received excellent reviews and was the recipient of the Edgar Award for best mystery novel. The story is told by sixteen-year old Hope Long. Hope and her eighteen-year old brother Jeremy are being raised by an alcoholic mother, referred to as Rita, whose dating life is always up and down. With a less than idea homelife, Jeremy and Hope have always been close. Jeremy hasn’t spoken since he was a young child. Hope believes it all began when Rita struck Jeremy after he informed her that God can sing. “She struck like a rattler, but without the warning. The slap echoed off Jeremy’s face, louder than the roar of the engine. “God don’t sing!” she screamed” (p. 4). Although Jeremy’s selective mutism is something that many people believe makes him insane, Hope knows different. Mackall does a phenomenal job portraying the love that Hope feels for Jeremy. Hope does not see Jeremy as crazy. In fact, the first 100 pages of the novel offer sweet recollections of Jeremy’s selflessness.
Although The Silence of Murder received many excellent reviews from entities such as School Library Journal and Booklist, there were a few reviews that found the book less than perfect. For example, Kirkus reviews found the characters and storyline too artificial, “the mean parents, bumbling defense lawyer and preening prosecutor all play to type, their characters flat” (Kirkus, 2011). I agree to an extent with this review. The defense lawyer and prosecutor were completely in line with all portrayed lawyers. And, although sweet, Hope’s love for her brother makes it seem he is perfect rather than real.
The Silence of Murder is a mystery. And, true to form, the novel offers twists and turns that keeps the reader guessing. The reader is presented with several good candidates for a suspect and plenty of motives for the killing. It appears that Coach Johnson, loved and admired as he was, was not the perfect man the community found him to be. Furthermore, the myriad of secrets that are uncovered unveil an ending that is both heart-breaking and surprising.

Kirkus Reviews. (2011, August 31). Review of The Silence of Murder. Retrieved from

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