I received this book for free from the TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Quiet Child by John Burley
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on August 8, 2017
Genres: Adult, Historical, Kidnapping, Mystery, Suspense, Thrillers
Source: TLC Book Tours
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From the award-winning author of The Absence of Mercy, comes a gripping and darkly psychological novel about family, suspicion, and the price we are willing to pay to protect those we love the most.
It’s the summer of 1954, and the residents of Cottonwood, California, are dying. At the center of it all is six-year-old Danny McCray, a strange and silent child the townspeople regard with fear and superstition, and who appears to bring illness and ruin to those around him. Even his own mother is plagued by a disease that is slowly consuming her.
Sheriff Jim Kent, increasingly aware of the whispers and rumors surrounding the boy, has watched the people of his town suffer—and he worries someone might take drastic action to protect their loved ones. Then a stranger arrives, and Danny and his ten-year-old brother, Sean, go missing. In the search that follows, everyone is a suspect, and the consequences of finding the two brothers may be worse than not finding them at all.
Continuing my streak of reading new-to-me authors this summer, I read John Burley’s third novel for the TLC Book Tour stop for the psychological thriller The Quiet Child. Set in 1954 in small town Cottonwood, California, six-year-old Danny and ten-year-old Sean McCray are abducted by a stranger while their father science teacher Michael is in the grocery store. Rumors have swirled for years throughout town that the mute younger child Danny is poisonous to those around him–especially since their mother Kate has continued to grow sicker by the day with a mystery illness that the doctors can’t control and even father Michael has tremors in one arm. Big brother Sean is very protective of Danny and their bond is unbreakable. This overprotectiveness leads to not just Danny being abducted, but Sean too. Their father Michael promises Kate that he’ll do whatever it takes to bring the boys home, but he underestimates the will of a volunteer Sheriff and his deputies to see those boys back home safe and sound. When Michael is contacted by the kidnapper with a request for ransom, the Sheriff isn’t far behind and the real manhunt begins–for both Michael and the kidnapper.
Told in different third person points of view, we get inside Michael’s head, as well as Sheriff Jim Kent’s thoughts as he trails Michael to find the boys. There are also peeks inside the kidnapper’s mind as well as both of the boys and their mothers among a few others. While this seems like a lot of head hopping, John Burley pulls these POV chapters together smoothly and effortlessly, keeping them on the short side and sparse when they need to be. You see what it’s like for everyone involved, to know what it’s like to be the town outsiders and have every little illness that the townspeople have blamed on one small, nice, little boy who’s never uttered a word.
I really enjoyed the time period appropriate details sprinkled throughout. We’re so used to the conveniences of modern technology, but to do something as simple as tracing a phone call in the 1950s was a labor intensive process of going to the switchboard building and sifting through long distance call logs. I enjoyed visiting this simpler time, even though it really complicated everyone’s lives in terms of medical services and modern conveniences. We far too often forget what it was like to not have a cell phone at hand or to sit in the same room with your doctor smoking a cigarette as he explains a medical condition (I thankfully was not alive when that was common practice).
I give The Quiet Child a 4.5 out of 5. I loved the pacing and escalating tension, and overall, the tone of this psychological thriller was on point. I had trouble putting this book down. The twists and turns that the plot took were unexpected, and I really didn’t expect a few of them. While the book didn’t really have a happy ending, it was fitting for the book. It definitely explored the bonds of family and how far someone would go to protect their family from harm–even if that decision hurts the people around them.
Find THE QUIET CHILD
About John Burley
John Burley attended medical school in Chicago and completed his residency in emergency medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. He currently serves as an emergency medicine physician in Northern California, where he lives with his wife and daughter, and their Great Dane and English bulldog.
Connect with John Burley
John Burley’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for THE QUIET CHILD:
Tuesday, August 8th: The Ludic Reader
Wednesday, August 9th: The Book Bag
Thursday, August 10th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, August 11th: Bewitched Bookworms
Monday, August 14th: From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, August 15th: Kahakai Kitchen
Tuesday, August 15th: SJ2B House Of Books
Wednesday, August 16th: Readaholic Zone
Thursday, August 17th: Tina Says…
Monday, August 21st: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Tuesday, August 22nd: StephTheBookworm
Wednesday, August 23rd: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
Wednesday, August 23rd: Art Books Coffee
Thursday, August 24th: A Bookworm’s World