Monday, June 26, 2017


A MOMENT'S SILENCE by Christopher Abbey (Mary Egan Publishing, 2016)

Reviewed by Karen Chisholm

Set against a backdrop of actual events in 1995, Martyn Percival, a middle-aged New Zealander, seeks adventure on his first OE to the United Kingdom. A chance sighting, providing a possible link between an explosion that has rocked the nation and the whereabouts of a renegade IRA operative, has Martyn reporting his suspicions to an attractive police sergeant in the Cotswolds. Scotland Yard becomes involved when the bomber is identified as a serial killer, who then embarks on a mission seeking revenge on the tourist who “shopped him”. 

Martyn’s burgeoning feelings for the sergeant have him agreeing to participate in a planned trap for his nemesis. When this backfires, Martyn returns to New Zealand. His stalker follows. Faced with fear for his own survival, Martyn has no alternative but to turn the tables and stalk the stalker. Thus setting up a face-to-face finale in New Zealand’s North Island wintry landscape. 

There's a particularly interesting idea at the heart of A MOMENT'S SILENCE. A holidaying New Zealander makes a chance sighting out of a bus window, subsequently connecting the dots between the car he saw, and a subsequent bomb explosion. Originally reporting his suspicions in the Cotswolds village he's staying in, it's rapidly escalated to Scotland Yard when the bomber is subsequently identified but not caught. Which puts Martyn and the information he can attest to in the firing line of a very determined serial killer.

The set up of this is very cleverly imagined - the idea of a chance sighting being part of the web of information that goes to identify a mass killer, bomber and renegade IRA operative is really intriguing. Intriguing enough that it didn't need the level of expository dialogue that has been used, and really didn't deserve the typecast romantic interest that Martyn instantly feels for the "attractive police sergeant" in that original village.

A MOMENT'S SILENCE clearly demonstrates the potential that this author has in creating believable and unusual plots. Perhaps what's required to make an entire package here is a little relaxing into the role of storyteller to improve some of the elements that didn't work quite as well - the sometime stilted narrative and the expository dialogue.

Karen Chisholm is one of Australia's leading crime reviewers. She created Aust Crime Fiction in 2006, reviews for Newtown Review of Books, and is a Judge of the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel and the Ned Kelly Awards. She kindly shares and republishes her reviews of crime and thriller novels written by New Zealanders on Crime Watch as well as on Aust Crime Fiction

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