Silenced by Allison Brennan is a romantic thriller, fifth in the Lucy Kincaid crime series (available April 24, 2012).
In Silenced, agent Lucy Kincaid nearly loses her grip on her climb toward acceptance in the FBI’s ranks. The troubled past that has driven her to succeed now threatens to derail her.
As Allison Brennan’s Kincaid series enters its third year, Silenced returns us to DC, where Kincaid takes on Washington insiders with fierce resolve and anger-driven courage.
The book moves from the city’s idyllic Rock Creek Park, to a brothel all but sanctioned by social workers, to a mountain compound where a religious cult controls members with drugs and terror. The “silencing” of the title goes well beyond the dead, as Brennan skillfully weaves present-day intrigue with the dark pasts of several young women.
The case begins on the park’s jogging paths, where a high-priced call girl is found murdered. As far as the FBI is concerned, the investigation is limited to the deaths of hookers who have ties to the Capitol’s marble halls. But the sex crimes in this layered story begin more than a decade in the past, and some of the victims aren’t dead. Not yet.
The scandal surrounding the first murder threatens to unravel the career of a powerful congressman, one to whom Kincaid is tethered by past trauma, about whom she must remain silent. As the killer’s calling cards help her link the congressman’s liason to the mounting deaths of other prostitutes, Kincaid suffers an agony of panic and grief, with flashbacks to her own attack by a sexual predator.
Her terror rises, her hold on objectivity begins to slip, and her insubordination causes her mentors to question her mental balance. She, in turn, is bewildered by their apparent indifference to finding retribution for the dead women. She is all the more determined to do so herself, and joins forces with a colorful DC detective who lends humor to this otherwise piercing drama.
The story is dominated by the sex workers’ plight. The ethics of turning a blind eye on a house of prostitution that provides safety for lost girls, whose rescue removes them from the streets and the veil of addiction, is thrown into high relief.
Mina had no street smarts; Nicole would burn through her money, then fall back to hooking on the streets; no one would protect Maddie from succumbing to her pill addiction. The only thing that had stopped Maddie from killing herself—with pills or her razor blade—had been Ivy’s constant pressure and support.
Kerry would always take care of her sister Bryn, but Ivy would miss her most of all. Kerry had been her rock for the last three years. Without her, Ivy wouldn’t have survived. She hoped once everything settled down, Kerry would find her in Canada.
Twenty-four hours. Then we’ll be free.
Jeopardizing her career, Kincaid moves without judgment in a world where black is not black, white is not white, and traditional moral values sometimes come into question.
This is a complex story, simply told. A great deal of attention is paid to the mind of a relentless killer, whose playful obsessions and indifference to death are the source of mounting horror.
Lois Karlin writes fiction and blogs at Women of Mystery. In the pursuit of authenticity she’s learned to dag sheep and take down a silo, and knows where to deep six a body in New York’s Hudson Valley.