Silenced by Allison Brennan is the fourth Lucy Kincaid novel, where the new analyst for the FBI must track down two sisters who might hold the key to a political corruption scandal and a recent string of murders.
It starts with the murder of a Congressman’s mistress. Wendy James is found in a park, strangled. Lucy Kincaid, now an analyst for the FBI—while waiting to start the FBI Academy at Quantico—is called in as part of the investigating team. Very quickly, it becomes obvious that Wendy was involved in something much larger than a single affair with a politician. Blackmail. High-powered men caught on tape with prostitutes. And now those young prostitutes are dying around Washington, D.C. Kincaid needs to find out who is involved and who is responsible before more women end up dead.
Then, the situation becomes much more complicated. One of the girls in Wendy’s ring of call girls, Ivy, has survived molestation by her father and is desperate to keep her younger sister from suffering the same abuse. Ivy rescued her sister—what the law calls “kidnapping”—and will do anything to keep her hidden. However, Ivy has seen the murderer, knows the major players involved, and is a key witness. Kincaid must find Ivy before the killer does.
[Read Jenny Maloney's review of Silenced…]
Silenced is the fourth installment of the Lucy Kincaid series. If you haven’t read the first three books in the series, don’t sweat it. Brennan does a good job of getting all the background information you need—Lucy’s rape seven years ago, her relationship with high-powered figures, the reasons behind her panic attacks, and her law-enforcement family are all explained here.
I know that this is a Lucy Kincaid novel, but I would argue that the star of this novel is Ivy Harris, the young prostitute in a rough situation. Ivy was born Hannah Edwards. She is the daughter of famed televangelist Kirk Edwards—a reverend who molests his daughters when they turn fourteen. Ivy saves her sister, Sara, by taking her away from the compound where Sara lives with the girls’ father.
And Ivy has the guts to do this because of her mother, Marie, who tried it and failed when Ivy was little (and still known as Hannah). In a desperate attempt to escape the religious compound, Marie gathered her daughters and tried to make a break with a stolen truck. But her older daughter chose to stay with Kirk Edwards, betraying Marie and the other little girls.
Her mother’s last words were for Ivy to protect her sister:
Then Marie saw her. Standing with the devil himself, united. He’d turned her daughter against her. Twisted everything that was good and made it evil.
Fear washed though Marie as the truth came clear in a flash of lucidity.
The devil had won.
My God, why have you abandoned me?
“Hannah, listen to me!”
“What’s wrong, Mommy?”
“Don’t believe anything they say about me. I love you. I will watch over you from Heaven. Protect Sara. You’re all she has left.”
“Mommy, the gate!”
With the last of her strength, Marie slid her foot from the accelerator to the brake. The truck skidded forward, sliding on the snow, and crashed into the gate.
Hannah’s screams came from far, far away.
The baby cried.
Marie’s head hit the windshield. She felt nothing except a heavy thud and warmth. Whatever the devil had drugged her with took away the pain.
Or maybe she was already gone, to a place beyond pain.
Since Ivy has been through so much, she doesn’t really open up to people. But getting people to open up is Lucy Kincaid’s superpower. Kincaid’s insight into what makes people tick—both criminals and your average Joes—is what makes her so effective at her job. If Kincaid can only get in the same room with Ivy, they can catch a murderer and molester while also bringing down some corrupt politicians.
However, Kincaid’s profiling skills also cause her to overstep her bounds. She’s only an analyst, a consultant for the FBI at the moment. She isn’t an agent yet. She’s not even a student in Quantico. Right now, she’s only someone with potential who is supported by the people in charge. Navigating the political side of FBI investigations is something she’s not familiar with.
While questioning a Congressman, Kincaid inserts her own brand of questions when it becomes obvious that Agents Stein and Armstrong are not getting the answers they need:
She turned to face Crowley. “Sir,” she said in her most diplomatic voice, “did you usually meet with Ms. James at her apartment?”
“My attorney,” he repeated without looking at her.
“Please, this is important. You must have cared about Wendy at one point.”
He looked at her, sorrow crossing his face for a split second, before his arrogance buried it. She implored him with her eyes, even though how he had handled the affair made her want to slap him.
“I truly did. We usually met at her apartment on Park Way.”
“Which apartment number?” she pretended to forget and flipped through blank pages in a notebook.
“Seven-ten. How does that help?” he asked, curious.
“Just fact-gathering, sir. Thank you.”
As soon as they were in the hall, Stein turned to Lucy and said, “What the hell were you doing? He cried uncle and you bat your eyes at him?”
“I did not,” she defended. “I needed to know where they met for sex. It was obvious to me it wasn’t in the apartment we walked this morning—and apartment seven-ten is not hers. It’s not even on the same floor.”
“Like you can tell after ten minutes in her apartment whether she brought men there? Why does it matter where they screwed?” Stein was livid. “I had Crowley panicked and asking for his lawyer, and you act like the good cop? You don’t even have a badge!”
Kincaid’s misreading of her place in the pecking order costs her, resulting in a transfer to DC Metro to work a seemingly unrelated case—that of a young prostitute. Very quickly, Kincaid begins connecting dots that lead to Ivy, the call-girl blackmail ring, and some high levels of government involvement. And Kincaid has to move fast in order to save five young women who have gotten in over their heads.
Brennan’s fourth Lucy Kincaid novel is a complex web of violence and corruption in Washington, D.C. Between the intrigue unique to this novel and Kincaid’s intricate backstory, there are a lot of pieces to keep readers interested. And there are plenty of breadcrumbs for Brennan to play with in future Lucy Kincaid novels. Stay tuned.
Listen to an excerpt from Silenced!
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Jenny Maloney is a reader and writer in Colorado. Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in 42 Magazine, Shimmer, Skive, and others. She blogs about writing at Notes from Under Ground. If you like to talk books, reading, publishing, movies, or writing, feel free to follow her on Twitter: @JennyEMaloney.
Read all posts by Jenny Maloney for Criminal Element.