Thursday, February 06, 2020

Splintered Silence by Susan Furlong

First Line: The sound of gunshots cut through my nightmare and jarred me from my sleep.

Both bearing the scars of battle, former Marine MP Brynn Callahan and her canine partner Wilco find themselves in Bone Gap, Tennessee, the place where Brynn grew up. Brynn was raised in the insular culture of the Irish Travellers, and she enlisted to escape its narrow confines as well as the vocal prejudices of the "settleds"-- non-Traveller townspeople.

Trained as a cadaver dog, Wilco finds a body when he and Brynn are out in the woods. This leads to an uneasy alliance with the local sheriff. Brynn has stumbled into long-buried secrets and tensions that have been simmering for years, secrets and tensions that may change her very perception of who she is.

Splintered Silence is a well-written, strong mystery that I wish I had liked more. It's fast-paced, with plenty of misdirection, and a strong sense of place. There are three things I enjoy most in my reading: setting, story, and characters. It's that third category of character that I had trouble with-- and not because the characters are badly written. Quite the contrary.

Yes, my subjective likes and dislikes have reared their ugly heads, although I will say that poor, battered Wilco is probably my favorite fictional war dog. (He's deaf, three-legged, has PTSD, and a list of strengths a mile long.) No, it's the humans I really didn't like. The townspeople who hate the Travellers even though they haven't bothered to learn a thing about them are just the sort of people I have no time for. The Irish Travellers themselves, with their endless lists of do's and don't's, are just as prejudiced as the folks they refer to as "settleds". And Brynn herself, on a downward spiral aided by prescription drugs and alcohol, highlights one of my many shortcomings-- my utter lack of patience for drunks. At least she begins to shed her dependence on them the more involved she becomes in the investigation.

If you do not share my personal and very subjective dislikes, you should really enjoy Splintered Silence. It was named one of the Top 25 Mysteries of 2017 by Strand Magazine, and I can see why. My reading self wants to love this book. Unfortunately, my emotional side has overruled it. This is most definitely a case where your mileage can (and probably will) vary!

Splintered Silence by Susan Furlong
eISBN: 9781496711687
Kensington Books © 2017
eBook, 273 pages

Amateur Sleuth/Working Dog, #1 Bone Gap Travellers mystery
Rating: C+
Source: Purchased from Amazon.



  1. Great review, I like the sound of this, adding to my TBR!

  2. You know, Cathy, I agree with you about the way certain characters and character types can put you off a story, even if the story isn't bad to start with, or has some excellent elements. I like the sound of the setting here, but I might get tired of that insular attitude, too, as well as the whole drinking/drugs thing. Hmm.....I'll have to think about this one.

  3. Although I usually am drawn to books with working dogs, I may skip this one.

    1. It all depends on whether or not your dislikes are anywhere close to mine. If they are, you should probably skip it.

  4. I just read the second book in the series and while I share your dislike of intolerance all around, it was still interesting. I thought the plot went off the tracks near the end, but I got somehting out of it. I like the protagonist, but was frustrated with her dependence on drugs and alcohol, although she is grappling with it near the end of the book. And she gets somewhat of a pass because she has bad PTSD and relives too much horror. I like Wilco, too.


Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. I really appreciate it!