Thursday, 22 September 2016
The Silence Between Breaths by Cath Staincliffe
Publication date: 22 September 2016
Published by: Little Brown
Purchase from Amazon here
Passengers boarding the 10.35 train from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston are bound for work, assignations, reunions, holidays or new starts, with no idea that their journey is about to be brutally curtailed.
Holly has just landed her dream job, which should make life a lot easier than it has been, and Jeff is heading for his first ever work interview after months of unemployment. They end up sitting next to each other. Onboard customer service assistant Naz dreams of better things as he collects rubbish from the passengers. And among the others travelling are Nick with his young family who are driving him crazy; pensioner Meg and her partner setting off on a walking holiday and facing an uncertain future; Caroline, run ragged by the competing demands of her stroppy teenage children and her demented mother; and Rhona, unhappy at work and desperate to get home to her small daughter. And in the middle of the carriage sits Saheel, carrying a deadly rucksack . . .
I am a big fan of Cath Staincliffe and her work, so I was delighted to be approved for a review copy of her new book The Silence Between Breaths. As you can imagine from the synopsis, this book is jam packed full of tension, and given the sad and shocking events in recent years, it was easy for me to imagine this becoming a terrifyingly real situation.
As they board the train and start their journey we become aware of a number of passengers, and scene by scene we get to know snippets about who they are, and why they are travelling today. I love travelling on public transport, or sitting in a café people watching, so I easily transported myself into the carriage, mapping out who was sitting where, what they looked like, and why they were on the train. All of this whilst at the back of my mind knowing from the synopsis that they were in grave danger.
But the beauty of this book is that we don’t only see life from the impact that this event could have on the passengers, the author has also given thought to the family of Sahel who is carrying the rucksack of terror. The media, and us as public never really think about the effects on the family of a terrorist. We wonder how could they not know what was going on, and forget about any anger, embarrassment, shock, and equally love they might have. Cath uses this book to highlight this, and it certainly got my attention and made me think about it.
The book not only follows the lead up to the event, but also the immediate after effects, as well as some further time after. It feels wrong to say enjoyed seeing their journey, but I guess I was intrigued to follow each of them to see what their fate was, and how it would impact on their future.
I found it hard to put the book down. It is horrific, but not in a gory or overly descriptive manner. It pulled in my imagination which then created scenes of fear, upset, and intrigue. I found myself saying ‘just one more chapter’, and before I knew it an age had passed!
If you are a fan of thrillers, and well written, absorbing novels this could definitely be a must read for you. Full of description, well developed characters, and the ability to tap into our fears and worries Cath Staincliffe has created a cracker of a book that is fast paced and gripping.