Click here to read reviewer Michael Leonard's take on Splinter the Silence.
McDermid plunges into the world of cyber-bullying in her latest thriller, Splinter the Silence, the internet phenomenon an integral aspect of a case centered on a number of recent suspicious deaths. Regardless of budget constraints, digital forensics are a vital tool as crime adapts to new opportunities. But none of this information is relevant to former police detective Carol Jordan, who has walked away from a job that has become unbearable.
She currently resides in the Yorkshire valley, where she is painstakingly restoring her dead brotherís farmhouse. Whatever Jordanís grievances against the world, she confines herself to the physical demands of her work on the farmhouse, rambling walks with her dog, and the comfort of alcohol when reality becomes too burdensome.
Psychologist and profiler Tony Hill regrets the distance that has fallen between him and Carol. Formerly a part of her Major Incidents team, Hill has contributed to its success rate. The pair seemed to have the right formula, Carol as leader, Hill as profiler, though ďtrouble has always occupied the heart of their relationship.Ē They are unexpectedly brought back together only through fate and Carolís desperate need for a friend. When he enters Jordanís life again, Hill has only begun to question the apparent suicide of a local feminist subjected to an onslaught of cyber-bullying.
Then Carol is arrested for driving under the influence one night while only a short distance from home. The arrest is unfortunate: her former boss, John Brandon, about to lure the detective inspector back into service as the head of a new project, a roving Major Incident Team that will go as need to the areas assigned to their jurisdiction. Itís a revolutionary approach to modern policing, Jordan free to select the people she wants on her team.
The various complications are sorted out--Mc Dermid leaves the loose threads of conflict unresolved for later complications. Carol realizes that the new position will give her a much-needed chance to return to the career she loves, with a crack team and no need to endure the personalities that had turned her job into a nightmare. With Tony Hill on her new team as profiler, their relationship is moving forward, both personally and professionally. The death Tony had been questioning has now multiplied, more feminists committing suicide following a siege of cyber-bullying: ďOne was interesting; two a coincidence; three a pattern.Ē
Though the womenís deaths are the heart of the new teamís first investigation, Mc Dermid focuses as well on the relationships of her main characters.
The wily murderer continues to plan his next move, but this first case is pivotal, proof that Jordan is the right leader for this new approach to investigating. Because technology is an important element in solving the cases, Jordan includes Stacey Chen on her list, a digital forensics genius. The brilliant Stacey is indispensible, even when somewhat distracted by a love affair with a fellow detective. The personal as well as the professional aspects of the characters create the texture of the novel, individuals managing their own relationships while working together to catch a killer. This is the authorís forte and her strength: the intricacies and complications of human nature, the petty jealousies and unpredictable emotions, the moment of elation when an investigation is successful.