#ThrowbackThursday ~ Out Of The Silence by Owen Mullen ~ A Compelling Revenge #Thriller #Crime

I’m joining The Chocolate Lady’s monthly Throwback Thursday link up.

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Out Of The Silence (released in 2019) 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.

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.

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?

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56816495When British investigative reporter Ralph Buchanan is sent to Pakistan, he figures his best days are behind him. But he’s about to embark on a story that will change his life forever.

In the Punjab region, Dr Simone Jasnin listens to an abused woman’s harrowing story just before she dies. Afra’s tale of sadistic cruelty is an all too common one in the region, but Dr Jasnin is determined not to let Afra’s story die with her—and she goes to Buchanan for help exposing the injustice.

Seven years later, members of a prominent Pakistani family are being brutally murdered, one by one. The only clues are the hand-carved wooden bangles left at the scene of each crime. As the list of suspects grows and authorities come up short, Buchanan realizes the solution to the deadly riddle might be closer to home than he ever thought possible. It’s a story that could make his name… but at what cost?

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