Cath Staincliffe is an award winning British crime novelist and screenwriter. Her latest novel is The Silence Between Breaths. Reading between the cover words, you can see the tagline: Eight Strangers. One Deadly Secret.
Mirroring current newspaper headlines, Staincliffe's novel takes place on a British commuter train. We meet the residents of one car, as well as an employee working that car. The Silence Between Breaths is an ensemble novel with a large number of players - the eight and their extended familial connections. I must admit, I initially made a list to keep straight who was who, but it didn't take me too long to readily recognize then all. Staincliffe had created rich, detailed lives, personalities and individual voices for each character. Not all are likeable, but their lives are compelling.
Of course I wanted to know what the secret was. It's revealed fairly early on in the book and was what I had suspected. But knowing the secret only made me more curious. What is going to happen? And how will the passengers react? What will befall them? And having to come to know the details of their lives only heightened the anticipation of dread.
That event takes place, but Staincliffe takes things further, following the 'after' story as well, which I really appreciated. It gave the story closure of a sort, a final ending instead of leaving the reader to wonder about the aftermath. There is action and tension throughout the story, but the book is definitely character driven. Staincliffe has excelled at her depictions. Fiction, but not that far from the truth.
Fans of Noah Hawley's Before the Fall would enjoy The Silence Between Breaths. Read an excerpt of The Silence Between Breaths.