I reviewed ‘Silenced Justice’ for Rosie’s Book Review Team.
Lieutenant Josh Williams is back in this latest thriller from Joe Broadmeadow, Silenced Justice.
When his former boss, retired Lieutenant Chris Hamlin, asks him to reopen an old case, Josh uncovers the shocking truth behind an innocent man’s death in prison. In 1972, Darnell Grey, accused of a series of rapes and a homicide, is beaten to death in the prison while awaiting trial.
As a black man accused of crimes against white women, a justice system intent on vengeance uses all its resources to secure his imprisonment. Evidence of his innocence is ignored, witnesses manipulated, and the truth locked away, putting him into a racially volatile prison system. With his death, his memory and the case against him fades into the past.
Determined to bring the matter to light, the deeper Josh looks into the case, the more dangerous it becomes for him and those he loves. Discovering a darker, more sinister conspiracy in play, Josh risks everything to uncover the truth.
A truth that unveils hollowness and corruption at the very core of government and our Justice System.
First of all, I have to say that I do admire the knowledge that the author has bought to this book. It is well-researched and the complicated plot is well-developed. It’s fast-paced, and exciting, and the idea behind the story is sound, with real potential to be a fantastically compelling read. The plot surrounding Darnell Grey, in particular, could really be made into something special; and the flashbacks to a previous time, and the language used here, while unsettling at times, was a somewhat timely reminder of the racism often inherent in the system – a racism that clouds judgement and can result in some pretty horrific things.
That said, there are too many issues with the writing itself. Most of these issues are around dialogue. It seems extremely contrived at times, often used exclusively for dumping information. It’s also often stilted and too formal– simple devices like using contractions when writing the dialogue could have made things sound more natural and made the manuscript more polished. There are also a smattering of complicated dialogue tags that detract from the narrative and, again, seem forced and contrived. The dialogue seems to be trying far too hard to fit into some idea of how the characters should speak to each other – it overplays the banter and becomes something of a parody of itself.
The author also uses quite an odd structure when writing dialogue, as in these examples:
“Can you drop my car off for an oil change?” putting on her suit jacket and picking up her briefcase.
“Glad you know that. I gotta run, call you later,” kissing him on the cheek.
“I am getting better,” arms folded across her chest.
I found this completely irritating, if I’m honest. I don’t know why the author has chosen to write in this way, but it doesn’t work.
Another issue for me was that I hadn’t read the previous novel and I was very unsure for a long time exactly who everyone was and what their relationship was to each other. It is difficult to get this right when you’re writing a series, but it’s important that writers do get it right, not only for new readers but for readers of the first book who might have forgotten what happened previously.
So, unfortunately this book didn’t work for me. I can see that the author, and his stories, have potential. But the writing needs a really good polish.