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The Quality of Silence    by Rosamund Lupton order for
Quality of Silence
by Rosamund Lupton
Order:  USA  Can
Crown, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Rosamund Lupton is the author of Afterwards and Sister, both outstanding literary mystery reads. Her new thriller, The Quality of Silence is 'the gripping story of a mother and daughter's quest to uncover a dark secret in the Alaskan wilderness.' What makes it very special is the remarkably precocious daughter Ruby, who is totally deaf, 'a girl made of letters.' Her perspective on the world is both imaginative and lyrical.

The mother, Yasmin Alfredson, is a lovely astrophysicist. Her deep love for her husband Matt has been recently damaged by his insistence on repeated stays in the Alaskan wilderness. He films wildlife programs there and has become very close to an Inupiaq woman, Corazon, and her brother. Yet when she receives an interrupted call from Alaska, Yasmin takes herself and Ruby there immediately. The story opens at Fairbanks Airport, where they are met by a policewoman, rather than by Ruby's beloved Dad. They are told of a tragic accident at the village of Anaktue where Matt was staying, a catastrophic fire that killed everyone there.

Though the police insist that the body count - and his wedding ring, which was found at the scene - prove that Matt died at Anaktue, Yasmin refuses to believe it and persistently seeks a way north to see for herself. She finds an independent trucker willing to take her and Ruby, and they set off on a perilous adventure. Along the way, readers learn a great deal about the dangers and denizens of the Alaskan wilderness, as well as the environmental risks involved in hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas. Ruby starts to receive disturbing emails; they are followed; and Yasmin takes huge risks in her quest to learn Matt's fate.

As can be expected from Rosamund Lupton, The Quality of Silence is a thoroughly engrossing and empathetic thriller. But it's especially enriched by young Ruby's take on life and events and by her ongoing Words Without Sounds tweets, that eventually go viral. If you haven't read this author yet, you're in for a rare treat from each of her outstanding novels.

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