The Silent Boyby Andrew Taylor
From the No. 1 bestselling author of THE AMERICAN BOY comes a brilliant new historical thriller set during the French Revolution. Selected as Historical Novel of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times, and picked as one of Radio 4’s Crime Books of the Year.Paris, 1792. Terror reigns as the city writhes in the grip of revolution. The streets run with blood as thousands lose their heads to the guillotine. Edward Savill, working in London as agent for a wealthy American, receives word that his estranged wife Augusta has been killed in France. She leaves behind ten-year-old Charles, who is brought to England to Charnwood Court, a house in the country leased by a group of émigré refugees.Savill is sent to retrieve the boy, though it proves easier to reach Charnwood than to leave. And only when Savill arrives there does he discover that Charles is mute. The boy has witnessed horrors beyond his years, but what terrible secret haunts him so deeply that he is unable to utter a word?
Covered in blood, 11-year-old Charles, mute from the horror he has just witnessed, stumbles through the streets of 1792 Paris in the grips of revolution. No longer safe in France, Charles is sent to a country estate in England with other exiled aristocrats. Edward Savill, the estranged husband of Charles's mother, is dispatched to collect him from the estate and deliver him into the care of his great uncle. When Charles is kidnapped, Savill, unsure whom to trust in a complicated web of spies and betrayals, must find the boy before he is discovered by those who want him dead. VERDICT This second novel starring Savill (after the Crime Writers' Association Historical Dagger-winning The Scent of Blood) delves into the complicated world of English and French espionage during the French Revolution. A slow start is balanced by the increased pace of the novel's second half and a conclusion that simultaneously ties up loose ends while leaving enough open for future books. Many characters are thinly drawn, but the complicated intrigue and rich historical details of London life in the late 18th century, along with vivid descriptions of the sights, sounds, and smells Charles encounters on his journey, will keep readers engaged. [See Prepub Alert, 4/13/15.]—Sarah Cohn, Manhattan Coll. Lib., Bronx, NY
In Taylor's newest historical crime novel (The Scent of Death, 2014, etc.), Edward Savill, home in London after working for the American Department in New York during the Revolutionary War, must deal with a shocking personal crisis. Savill has left government to work as a property agent for foreign investors, but then comes unexpected news from Rampton, the former American Department head: he says his niece, Savill's long-estranged wife, Augusta, has been killed in revolutionary Paris. She's left a 10-year-old son, Charles, father unknown, who's been brought to England and left at Charnwood, near Bath, under the care of French refugees Fournier, a former cleric who may be an atheist; Count de Quillon, who "dabbl[ed] with the Revolution when it suited his purpose"; and their physician, Dr. Gohlis. Rampton, who's chief of the mysterious Black Letter Office, tells Savill he wants him to fetch the boy, an important task because there are "elements that have to do with the safety of the kingdom and the impending war with France." Savill is a cautious, intelligent protagonist, but he turns relentless after Charles is kidnapped and taken to London. Taylor's mystery is a true puzzler, but it's his mastery of life in chaotic Paris and London in 1792 that dazzles, and his portrayal of Charles, who was struck mute after his mother's killers terrorized him, is empathetic. The boy counts compulsively—"measurements make a fortress of facts that protects him as he sleeps"—and adopts an écorché, a corpse transmuted into an anatomical model, as a friend. Motives push and pull. The count claims to be Charles' father. Rampton wants an heir. Savill feels a moral obligation to the child of a woman he once loved. As characters travel across England on nearly impassable muddy, rutted roads and stop at crude inns serving chicken, chops, and sherry, Taylor offers a readable take on social mores, class interactions, and great houses populated by aristocrats "icily elegant, ambitious to the point of ruthlessness." A touch of intrigue, a soupçon of espionage, wrapped in tense and suspense-laden mystery.
- HarperCollins UK
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.10(d)
Meet the Author
Andrew Taylor is the multiple award-winning author of The American Boy, his No. 1 bestselling historical novel which was a 2005 Richard & Judy Book Club choice. He has won many awards, including the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger, an Edgar Scroll from the Mystery Writers of America, the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award (the only author to win it three times) and the CWA’s prestigious Diamond Dagger, awarded for sustained excellence in crime writing.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >
I love historical reads and this kept my interest nicely