Review – Under A Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes

By | January 7, 2014

In the crisp early morning hours, the police are called to a suspected murder at a farm outside a small English village. A beautiful young woman has been found dead, blood all over the cottage she lived in. At the same time, police respond to a reported female suicide, where a car has fallen into a local quarry.

As DCI Louisa Smith and her team gather the evidence, they discover a link between these two women, a link which has sealed their dreadful fate one cold night, under a silent moon. 

Like just about everyone else who read it, I was blown away by Elizabeth Haynes’ first book Into the Darkest Corner – then just a tiny bit disappointed by Revenge of the Tide.  But Human Remains was quite wonderful.  It’s a bit self indulgent to quote yourself, but (with an extraordinary burst of eloquence) here’s what I wrote:

This is a story that makes you sweat and your pulse race, 100% believable, magnificently dark, incredibly exciting, and I defy anyone to put it down for anything but the briefest of pauses before its fantastic ending.

So when I heard Elizabeth Haynes had a new one out I was so excited – and when I got hold of a copy (thanks Anne!) I just couldn’t wait to read it.  And I’m delighted to report that – although so very, very different from the books she’s done before – it was quite excellent.

Louisa Smith is a newly appointed DCI, trying to make her mark, and the whole book is a police procedural in its truest sense – six days in real time, a murder and an apparent suicide, with source documents included to help the reader solve it too. The author has worked as a police intelligence analyst, and the knowledge she brings of how an investigation is built really makes this novel live – well, that and the wonderful writing. 

This is the sort of police procedural I really like – strong on the lives and backgrounds of the team and their relationships with each other as the investigation moves forward. The community in which the crime takes place is fascinating too – all the overlapping relationships, secrets, lies and deceptions. I’m always pretty hopeless at working out whodunnit, but I had no chance with this one – despite all the inclusion of the evidence, it all came as a real surprise to me.  There are so many plots and subplots, but they’re so well handled that nothing ever becomes too complicated. I’ve heard this is the first in a series – yes please, I’m in!

Under a Silent Moon is already available for Kindle, and will be published in hardcover and paperback by Sphere in April.

Elizabeth Haynes’ debut novel, Into the Darkest Corner, won Amazon’s Book of the Year in 2011 and Amazon’s Rising Star Award for debut novels.  Elizabeth grew up in Sussex and studied English, German and Art History at Leicester University. She is currently taking a career break having worked for the past seven years as a police intelligence analyst. Elizabeth now lives in Kent with her husband and son, and writes in coffee shops and a shed-office which takes up most of the garden. She is a regular participant in, and a Municipal Liaison for, National Novel Writing Month – an annual challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November.