It’s the final day of the blog tour for Silenced, published on the 7th December by Hobeck Books, and I’m delighted to share my review.
A shocking opening sets the scene for Jennie Ensor’s latest novel. Teenager Solita Milton is walking home from school, thinking about what to buy her sister for a birthday gift and her determination to work hard at school, get good grades which hopefully will pave the way to university and her goal of being a social worker.
Investigating the seemingly pointless and random murder of a teenage girl is DI Callum Waverley’s first assignment as acting SIO. It’s a significant case and Callum knows he has to make sure he’s up to the job, despite his recent burn out, plus an incident from the past which he has kept to himself and still plays on his mind, and the troubled relationship with his son who blames him for the break up of his marriage.
‘A gang called the Skull crew are based on the Effra Lane estate. My guess is that the killers are members of this gang. As I understand it, the Skull Crew split off from a larger gang a few years ago and became the dominant gang on the estate and in the immediate area.’ I glanced at heads nodding and pens scribbling. My team, I thought with pride and a spike of trepidation.
The investigation is anything but straightforward. Frustratingly for the investigating team, any residents who might have been witnesses, even Solita’s mother, are too afraid to give the police any information … except for one.
The story is told through the first person perspectives of three of the characters — Callum and two teens, Jez and Luke. All three are believable. I can’t even imagine how the police cope with some of the things they witness, especially with regard to this kind of scenario. It was a case that seemed never ending to Callum and the strain of the investigation, combined with his personal issues, was evident.
I read that Jennie Ensor did tons of research and interviewed ex gang members, so this feels very true to life, with the instances of crime and grooming of youngsters who have lost their way through parental neglect, loss, their need to feel a sense of belonging, or whatever other reason. They are such easy targets for the gangsters to reel in. And once they’re in, there’s no escape without consequences.
Although this is a fairly hefty novel weighing in at all on 500 pages, it didn’t feel like it while I was reading. I was immersed in the story and appreciated the fact it was told from both sides. The police procedural and gangland culture aspects are convincingly realistic. It’s intense, raw, violent, poignant — a very sensitively and well written novel.
A teenage girl is murdered on her way home from school, stabbed through the heart. Her North London community is shocked, but no-one has the courage to help the police, not even her mother. DI Callum Waverley, in his first job as senior investigating officer, tries to break through the code of silence that shrouds the case.
This is a world where the notorious Skull Crew rules through fear. Everyone knows you keep your mouth shut or you’ll be silenced – permanently.
This is Luke’s world. Reeling from the loss of his mother to cancer, his step-father distant at best, violent at worst, he slides into the Skull Crew’s grip.
This is Jez’s world too. Her alcoholic mother neither knows nor cares that her 16-year-old daughter is being exploited by V, all-powerful leader of the gang.
Luke and Jez form a bond. Can Callum win their trust, or will his own demons sabotage his investigation? And can anyone stop the Skull Crew ensuring all witnesses are silenced?
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A Londoner with Irish heritage, Jennie Ensor writes emotionally-charged psychological suspense and thrillers, and darkly comic fiction.
She began her writing career as a journalist and loves to tackle controversial issues in her novels: Islamic terrorism, Russian gangsters and war crimes in Blind Side (a thriller set in the year of London’s 2005 terror attacks), abuse and sexual exploitation in The Girl in His Eyes. Not Having It All: a wickedly funny, feel-good novel about love, lies and middle-age is a comedy unlike any other. Ms Ensor lives with her husband and an Airedale terrier. She writes short stories and poetry as well as novels, her poem Lost Connection placed second in its category in the 2020 Fish Lockdown Prize. In her spare time (?) Jennie reads widely, sings choral music, practices yoga and cycles the punishing local hills. Evenings, she’s often collapsed in front of a TV crime drama with a bar of chocolate/glass of strong alcohol.
You can find out more about Jennie and her books on her website https://jennieensor.com or follow her on social media.