THE SILENT WOMEN by Sara Blaedel
Grand Central; 11/20/18
CBTB Rating: 4.5/5
The Verdict: Gripping suspense from Denmark’s Queen of Crime
Nordic Noir fans, listen up - this fall is bringing with it some fantastic new crime novels to sink your teeth into, including Sara Blaedel’s THE SILENT WOMEN—the second book in the author’s internationally bestselling Louise Rick series. (Of note: this book was previously published in the US under the title Call Me Princess.) In THE SILENT WOMEN, Copenhagen detective Louise Rick faces a disturbing case when a young woman is found brutally assaulted in her home, the victim of a man who appears to use dating websites to identify and meet his prey. THE SILENT WOMEN was Blaedel’s breakout book in her native Denmark, and it’s easy to see why. Dark and visceral, this chilling crime story will get under readers’ skin and stay there long after the final page is turned. The crimes portrayed in this book are deeply disturbing, but Blaedel handles them with sensitivity; readers will find Louise Rick a fantastic advocate and champion for the women who fall victim to our story’s criminal. Where THE MIDNIGHT WITNESS, Book 1 in Blaedel’s Louise Rick series, is a more slow-burning story, THE SILENT WOMEN is gripping right from the outset; readers looking for a procedural with tense, page-turning pacing will thoroughly enjoy this series installment. THE SILENT WOMEN is sure to hook readers on Sara Blaedel’s Louise Rick series.
An online flirtation can have horrific consequences, as Detective Louise Rick discovers when she is called to an idyllic Copenhagen neighborhood where a young woman has been left bound and gagged after a profoundly brutal rape attack.
Susanne Hansson met her rapist on a popular dating website. But the man is hiding behind a labyrinth of false pseudonyms, and neither Susanne--nor the police--have been able to trace his true identity. With the internet as his playground, the rapist will almost certainly strike again if Louise can't unmask him before it's too late.
Whenever I cover series installments on Crime by the Book, the number one question I receive is: can it be read as a standalone? In the case of THE SILENT WOMEN, absolutely, yes. This is only the second installment in Blaedel’s Louise Rick series (the full series order can be found in this blog post), so readers digging in for the first time with THE SILENT WOMEN won’t have missed out on that much to begin with—but this book actually lends itself perfectly to being the first Louise Rick book you read beyond that, too. As a reader who is now playing “catch up” with these early series installments (as in, I’ve already read the later books in the Louise Rick series), reading the first few Louise Rick books is a fascinating case study in watching an author’s writing mature - and the leap in maturity between THE MIDNIGHT WITNESS and THE SILENT WOMEN is genuinely staggering. THE SILENT WOMEN just feels like the book in which Blaedel really hits her stride as a writer—and newcomers to the Louise Rick series will find it a fantastic place to fall in step with Blaedel’s beloved series protagonist. Blaedel also does an excellent job providing context for readers who might not have read THE MIDNIGHT WITNESS, making it easy to dig into THE SILENT WOMEN no matter what kind of exposure to the series you’ve had thus far.
THE SILENT WOMEN is arguably one of Blaedel’s darkest and most disturbing stories—it’s worth proceeding with a bit of caution due to the nature of the crimes it centers around. In THE SILENT WOMEN, Louise Rick is on the hunt for a serial rapist who targets women he meets on a popular dating website. The subject matter found in THE SILENT WOMEN will undoubtedly be difficult to stomach, but Blaedel tackles this very sensitive topic with empathy and heart. Our villain is a repulsive and disturbing figure; a shadowy character who uses the anonymity of the internet to lure unsuspecting women into his trap. It’s a terrifying and all-too-plausible concept. But the real substance of this story - the component that made it so compelling to me - came in the relationship between Louise and the victims of these terrible crimes. In THE SILENT WOMEN, Louise develops a close relationship with Susanne, a young woman terrorized by our story’s criminal. Louise meets Susanne on one of the darkest days of her life, and becomes emotionally invested in helping Susanne get back on her feet - and in getting justice for the terrible assault she has been subjected to. In a story that centers around women being brutally attacked, it’s particularly empowering to see women helping one another and advocating for one another, and Blaedel knocks it out of the park here. Louise is a fierce advocate for Susanne; she ensures that Susanne receives the highest level of care, and she makes it her personal mission to not only catch Susanne’s attacker, but to also ensure that Susanne isn’t seen as simply the “victim,” but as a whole person with a complex life and a bright future ahead of her. The relationship between these two women drives the story; readers will find themselves cheering for both Susanne and Louise as they work together in pursuit of justice. It’s a perfect example of the humanity and empathy that make this series a standout.
As always in a Sara Blaedel book, much emphasis is placed on police procedure. Blaedel does extensive research for her crime novels, and I’m always impressed with the level of detail she injects into her stories. Readers who love crime novels that delve into the nitty-gritty of investigative processes will find much to love here; from crime scene to interview room to morgue, Blaedel takes readers into the day-to-day work that makes solving a crime possible. Perhaps best of all, in THE SILENT WOMEN she pairs this detail-oriented brand of crime writing with quick, page-turning pacing - and the result is a book that’s both satisfyingly substantial and binge-worthy. If you typically find Nordic Noir a bit slow-burning for your tastes, you may want to give THE SILENT WOMEN a try—it may just strike the right balance for you.
THE SILENT WOMEN has all the hallmarks of Sara Blaedel’s best work. Readers will find protagonist Louise Rick as endearing as ever, and they will follow with bated breath as she takes on her most disturbing case yet. True to form, Blaedel delivers a carefully plotted, meticulously researched crime novel here, and readers will find the darkness of this story’s central crimes perfectly balanced with the strong human element that drives it forward. I always love spending time in Sara Blaedel’s world, and THE SILENT WOMEN was no exception.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions my own.
Series: Louise Rick series
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (November 20, 2018)
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