Silence is Golden: 01/13/09
Back in June I stumbled upon a delightful mystery series by Penny Warner. I read and reviewed Blind Side which is midway through the Connor Westphal series. At the same time I had picked up 1880284669?Silence is Golden, the book that follows Blind Side. I hadn't realized it was part of the series; I just liked the cover. Later I realized my good fortune and I had to drop what I had been reading for fun to read Silence is Golden. I have also picked up the other books in the series and hope to get the read and reviewed later this year.
The quiet life at Flat Skunk California has been interrupted by gold fever. Sluice Jackson, the town's oldest living prospector has found a gold nugget and opened up a can of worms in the process. Besides the gold fever mayhem, Penny finds herself in the middle of family dispute between her ex-boyfriend and his wife who are at odds over their daughter's deafness. The hearing wife wants to have the daughter operated on to get a cochlear implant; the husband doesn't. Connor, who is also deaf is torn at seeing this little girl in the tug of war.
Both those plots alone would be enough for an interesting novel but Warner is writing murder mysteries. There are a number bodies in this book. For Sluice, there is the body of an old prospector that might overturn the old town's balance of power. For Connor there is Gail and it looks like her ex boyfriend murdered her to prevent the operation. The aftermath of Gail's murder and what happened to Susie (the daughter) made this mystery more heart wrenching than I had expected but I still enjoyed the novel.
My favorite parts of the book through were the ones that focused on Sluice Jackson, the century old bones and the history of Blind Skunk. I also enjoyed learning more about Connor, sign language and deaf culture. She's an interesting unreliable narrator because the gaps and errors are there because she has either misread someone's lips or had her back turned and couldn't hear what was said. It's a refreshing way of keeping the reader guessing rather than having a protagonist who keeps things secret for personal or under-handed reasons. Connor is the antithesis of Dr. James Sheppard and that's a big part of why I adore her.
The Connor Westphal series so far is as follows: