There’s something compelling about murder in a rural setting. Statistically, these are the safest areas to live in and yet we read so much that takes place in what appear to be law-abiding places. Sometimes you just need to suspend your disbelief. Other times, the writer does good job at showing what happens behind closed doors. Eric Rickstad’s The Silent Girls is one such book.
In the small US town of Canaan, Vermont young girls have been disappearing. Private detective Frank Rath is hired to look for the latest missing girl, Mandy, whose mother is convinced she hasn’t just simply run away. The case has disturbing echoes for Frank who is bringing up his niece, Rachel, after the brutal murder of her parents years earlier. Now their killer is up for parole and Frank, absorbed in the hunt for the missing girls, also attempts to prevent the freeing of an earlier murderer.
Eric Rickstad is a very good writer which elevates this book above the average mystery. He manages to convey the isolation and brutality of elements of this seemingly peaceful country town. It’s a difficult trick to pull off the role of a private detective in modern times where police investigations are tightly controlled. He manages it by adding the personal element of Rath’s family history. The detective comes acres as both protective and vengeful on behalf of the girls he is trying to find.
The ultimate subject is a difficult one to tackle especially, I would imagine, in the US. I’ll leave it for readers to discover what it is as to say here would reveal too much of the plot. But he has my admiration for addressing it within a crime novel.
The Silent Girls will appeal to crime fiction readers who like a well constructed mystery that doesn’t shy away from addressing a complicated subject. Highly recommended.