Sally Spedding

Prey Silence

"..a galloping pace from the very first page"


The Wardle-Smith’s are a thoroughly British family who, lulled by the idea of a tranquil lifestyle abroad, have moved their lives to a small town in France. From the moment they arrive it is a total disaster. The furniture that was supposed to come with the house has vanished. Have squatters spirited away their belongings - or is it someone closer to home? Dark, sinister forces coincide with their arrival and they discover a motley crew of characters who populate the town they have moved to.

Their neighbour, Bonneau, hates the English and yet has plans to ingratiate himself with them, while other members of the community are hiding secrets behind their amiable facades. Soon, the arrival of a young woman called Natalie embroils the whole family in a nightmare that threatens their very dream of living in France.

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This novel gets off to a galloping pace from the very first page. The character of Samson Bonneau is well defined from the very start and you just know that he is up to mischief. Some of his family members have either disappeared or been in ‘unfortunate accidents’ and you really cannot help but wonder if Bonneau had a hand in any of their demises. However, his schemes do not always go according to plan with outside forces predicting what he is about to do next. My favourite character was Bonneau’s mother. She came across as a woman who had been dominated all her life, but was now beginning to feel the first vestiges of freedom. And she is determined to grasp them for all she is worth. The main character, Tom, is a likeable if slightly weak man who’s wife is having a nervous breakdown as their marriage is rapidly failing. Thankfully, Spedding dispenses his dreadful wife back to Britain halfway through the book. If she had stayed, I suspect the book would have been marred by her presence. Also, with the wife out of the way, a hint of romance between Tom and Natalie develops. Sadly, she is the girl who brings with her all the trouble. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and give full credit to Spedding for actually making me feel as though I was in France. The countryside was described perfectly - including the smell of the bread from the local boulangerie. My only small concern was that towards the end, with all the different characters separated, Spedding felt obliged to describe in detail their separate antics. This made the book a tad over-long perhaps? That minor quibble aside, I found this to be a striking book that crime fans would wish to read – although, maybe not whilst making their journey to a new life in France!

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