The Silencer is a gripping story, set in Albania. It centres around the missionary couple Jude and his wife Alex. They live in a small town that sounds mountainous and rural. I struggle with the local place names, mainly because I’m in a rush to find out what will happen, so I can only handle Tirana, but I do recognise the different towns and villages, I promise…
Paul Alkazraji, the author, has done a great job with this story. It is the second one I read, The Migrant being the first. This story is full of suspense, and there is a constant threat in the air. The Silencer starts calmly enough, and you think, “Oh, he’s trying to get a book published, that’s good!” Until you get the first few inklings that it might not be as straightforward as you think.
The Silencer has quite a few characters, all colourful and interesting. There are the students of Jude’s English class, the fellow (Dutch) missionaries and people living near Jude and Alex’s apartment. There is Mehmed, whose story Jude is trying to publish, and Jude’s father who tells him not everything has to be done and shared with the world.
As the characters are so unique, it helps to keep who is who in The Silencer, and there is a list with names and their connections at the end of the book as well. Jude and Alex sense the danger, especially as Alex has a vivid dream. They are more careful and helped by their friends, but they don’t know where to expect danger to come from.
Meanwhile, there are a few unhappy groups in The Silencer. There are nationalists, religious groups, paramilitary… They’re all on the move, but who made the menacing phone call? Who is hanging around the apartment block?
Paul has brought the feeling of evil into The Silencer really well, especially when one of the characters senses an evil presence, like a wolf, closing in, hovering nearby. There is the hesitation when one of the characters is slowed down on his way to evil, a calling to return. Which voice will win in the end?
The epilogue to The Silencer is brilliant, showing you the outcome in the long run. There are still a lot of questions I have, like, what happened to the Dutch missionaries in the end? What about the younger sister one of the characters left behind in Turkey? I can think of a whole range of books about these amazing, colourful people.
Paul draws you in from page one, making you feel like you’re there, smelling the coffee, feeling the heat coming off the stones. The Silencer is very detailed, which slows the story down for me, but on the other hand, I wanted to know all the little things as well. Such a hard dilemma! I know spoilers are frowned upon, but maybe there should be a synopsis sheet at the beginning, so I can find out what happened without having to feel rushed, haha.
The Silencer was also quite a lot about attitudes to people around us, and I loved how Paul brought that in. The struggles with local troubles and local grief are hard, and I felt for Alex as different things around her were making her life harder. I thought she dealt with it very well and I found myself spurring her on to stay patient, to not get bitter… The Silencer is a great read, and I just hope Paul will tell us what happened to the other characters!
I received a copy via Love Books Tours but was under no pressure or obligation to write a favourable review.