Out Of The Silence: A Compelling Revenge Thriller by @OwenMullen6 #PublicationDay @Bloodhoundbook #NewRelease

Author: Owen Mullen

Published: January 2019 by Bloodhound Books

Category: Crime, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Book Review

Star investigative reporter Ralph Buchanan’s glory days are behind him. His newspaper has banished him to Pakistan, not knowing the greatest moment of his long career is waiting for him there.

When Simone Jasnin asks him to help expose a grave injustice, he finds himself embroiled in a harrowing tale that began in a dusty settlement in rural Punjab, setting in motion a chain of events that will change the lives of everyone involved.

Out Of The Silence is an intensely powerful, moving and shocking story of terror, misogyny and abuse of the worst kind, set in the Punjab region of Pakistan in the late 1990s.

Found by a nurse in the hospital compound, a horribly injured woman was being examined by Doctor Simone Jasnin. She had seen the results of brutality and acid attacks on women before, but never as bad as this one. She knew all too well, living and working there as well as being half Pakistani, how women were treated as second class citizens and often much worse. The story the woman told changed the course of Simone’s life.

It was a miracle she was alive, though it was impossible to say for how much longer. What could anyone have done to deserve this?

Eleven years earlier Afra and Jameel lived in the small rural village of Mundhi in the southern region of the Punjab. Their childhood friendship had developed into something deeper but despite them wanting to be together, it wasn’t destined to be. Jameel was refused permission to marry Afra by her mother because he ‘is nothing in the world.’ He knew Afra would be wed to a rich man, her mother was without a husband and needed the ‘bride price’ to secure the future of her family. Afra’s and Jameel’s lives take distinctly opposite paths, but unbeknownst to each other they end up living in the same city. 

Back in the present we meet Ralph Buchanan. He is an alcoholic. Once a renowned investigative reporter, his life is on a downward spiral. He’s been in Pakistan for three years and his demons have stayed there with him. Meeting Simone Jasnin is the catalyst for him taking the first tentative step on the ladder out of the depths he’s sunk to. It takes several attempts before he begins the long uphill climb in earnest. Eventually, the story told to him by Simone about the treatment of women, and then the occurrence of several murders reawaken his reporters instinct. 

I’d reaped as I’d sown and it didn’t feel nice. She cut me off. ‘No matter, I’ll look for someone else to help with the problems that concern me. You have your own I see.’

The remark caught me off guard. ‘What problem?”

‘The one in your hand, Mr Buchanan.’

The story revolves around the unbelievably horrific situation that faces Pakistani girls. Once they’re married, often at a very young age and to a man chosen for them, their lives are not their own. The law makes it possible for unscrupulous and cruel men to get away with brutality towards their wives, and terrible acts of violence, as is shown by the family Afra married into. For example, if a woman is raped, which seemed to happen with alarming regularity given the numbers, she can be charged with adultery. The woman has to produce four men of excellent character as witnesses or she is prosecuted and the rapist goes free. She loses either way. It’s hard to believe these laws existed as late as the 1990s. 

The writing is terrific, conveying the unspeakable horrors young women had to endure. The evocative descriptions make it easy to picture life in Mundhi village and Lahore city. Tension mounts as a prominent family is targeted and one murder follows another, each being carried out in a particularly significant way and the same clue left at each crime scene. There are several possible suspects and Ralph Buchanan thinks he knows who the murderer is. This is a story that could catapult him back to the top….but is he right? 

Owen Mullen has crafted an incredible, very distressing and scarily realistic scenario, and has dealt with it extremely well. It’s a story that should be told and the characters will stay with me for a long time.

I chose to read and review Out Of The Silence based on an advance copy supplied by the author.

About the Author

Owen Mullen is a McIlvanney Crime Book Of The Year long-listed novelist.
And So It Began earned a coveted Sunday Times Crime Club ⭐Star Pick.

Owen Mullen graduated from Strathclyde University, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; Owen still loves to perform on occasion. His passion for travel has taken him on many adventures from the Amazon and Africa to the colourful continent of India and Nepal. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow, and their home away from home in the Greek Islands where the psychological thriller In Harm’s Way and both the Charlie Cameron and Delaney series’ were created.

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