The third in the Amanda Steele series opens with a bang, so to speak. In the wee hours of the morning, Angela Parker nudges her husband Brett and tells him there’s someone in the house. While he investigates, she gets their very young daughter Zoe, then hides in the closet. She hears Brett being shot, and then with dread, waits her turn as the intruder discovers her.
Steele is called to the scene, and she and her team (plus everyone else who shows up at a murder) move around the interior of the house, looking for anything to give a clue as to who these people are, what they did for a living, and if they recently mad someone incredibly mad. They quickly realize that Zoe is not there – not in the closet, not behind mom in the closet – and think perhaps the intruders have taken her. The child is about the same age as Steele’s daughter was when she died, and eventually Steele finds the girl in a wicker basket at the foot of the bed.
Zoe, for her part, traumatized by what she’s seen and heard, does not speak – thus, the silent witness. Much of the first third of the book revolves around Steele gaining Zoe’s trust and getting her to talk and Steele’s own, constant, inner thinking about how she misses her daughter and doesn’t want to get close to Zoe. Despite this, she does wind up taking Zoe in, since the girl is likely in danger.
The team pulls the strings of the investigation, eventually pulling in a connection to another case involving a sitting rep in the city, a hotel seemingly in the middle of nowhere, another unsolved murder, and corruption under their noses.
The pacing is fairly taut, and the writing is fine – no major bumps except the drumbeat of Steele insisting to herself that the kid will be put into the system, that she can’t handle it, and so on. That did get a little old by about the 60% mark, but it eases up toward the end.
The end…I’m not a big fan of bad guy infodumps at the end. But we get one, and not a bad shootout to go with it, which kind of made up for that.
Solid three out of five stars.
Thanks to Bookouture and Netgalley for the reading copy.