A Stain on the Silence

By Andrew Taylor

The Short Take:

As much a modern novel about secrets and identities as it is a mystery story, this elegantly written book surprised me. It’s certainly not typical of the genre.


Trust is a major issue in this book by the prolific British writer, Andrew Taylor: Who should you trust? How far should you trust them? Frankly, I didn’t trust anyone in the book — but that just added to the enjoyment.

Few of the mysteries I’ve encountered have the high level of personal angst found in this one, or the low body count. There’s not one central mystery here, but several lifetimes of them — all coalescing in one mess of secrets, half-truths, buried memories, and general unease.

Taylor lets his story unfold gently, exploring relationships both in the present day and from years earlier when the narrator, James, was still a teen. James has put that past firmly behind him, but now it is flooding back, disruptinghis marriage and his life.

A Little Plot:

Out of nowhere, James hears from Lily, the dying mother of one of his adolescent friends — and with whom he had an affair ages ago. She tells him they have a daughter, and the daughter is in desperate need of his help.

While unsure whether or not to believe Lily, James let himself be drawn into their circle — as much to resolve festering issues ┬áin his own subconscious as to help his supposed (and highly erratic) daughter, Kate. A suspicious wife; Kate’s violent half-brother, Carlos; a man who may be murdered and his estranged family — each of them sometimes lie and sometimes almost tell the truth.

In his struggle to separate their facts from fiction, James realizes he has been running from the truth about his own past, too. But no longer.

For more about Andrew Taylor and his works, click here.

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