In the fourth book of the Joe Donovan series, Donovan finds himself working with a child murderer to write her memoirs. Anne Marie is no ordinary child murderer, though. She committed her crime when she was a child herself, eleven years old. Now, years later, out of jail and trying to hold together some semblance of a normal life with her family, she's suffering blackouts. During one of these blackouts a young boy dies. With no where else to go, Anne Marie turns to Joe Donovan for help.
SPEAK NO EVIL is without a doubt the strongest book of the Joe Donovan series. That says a great deal considering my feelings about THE MERCY SEAT, the first book in the series. In SPEAK NO EVIL Martyn Waites gives us a front-row seat into Donovan's personal life that has previously been on the cusp of his character but not quite so central. Donovan's connection to his daughter and hers to him infuses him with a new dimension, which is further heightened by the parallel existence of Anne Marie and her son, Calvin.
The supporting cast in this series provide color to the very dark themes. Amar excels in technology and fashion; Jamal is the street-smart kid who's blossoming with the security and identity Donovan has cultivated in him. Peta, too, is becoming secure in her own skin. Watching these characters grow and bond throughout the series has been a large part of the enjoyment. In SPEAK NO EVIL the bonds that they've formed illustrate another level of the book's family theme.
Waites' dialogue flows naturally, seamlessly and at times very powerfully. In the Isis audio version, read by Waites himself, this is especially apparent as the audience becomes lost in the story, watching through the mind's picture, the life of a tortured woman unfold before them...the conflict of a young girl dealing with her separated parents...the drive of a young man, trying to prove his abilities. And Waites' subtle humor worms its way in every now and again as he voices the lives he's created on paper. I dare you not to care about them.
SPEAK NO EVIL is an emotionally intense, physically thrilling novel that is ramped up several notches in Waites' narration on the audiobook. You'll give your heart a workout experiencing it. The series is growing better with each book and I can't wait to see what comes next.
SPEAK NO EVIL is available in the US in hardcover (ISBN: 978-1605980966) from Pegasus Books and on audio (ISBN: 978-0753142608) from Isis Audio.