You can’t choose your family. Or can you?
Meet the Bensons. They’re an ordinary couple. They wash their car, mow their lawn and pass the time of day with their neighbours. And they have a beautiful little girl called Daisy.
There’s just one problem.
SHE’S NOT THEIRS.
D. S. Nathan Cody is about to face his darkest and most terrifying case yet . . .
When David Jackson’s latest book starts, Daisy Agnew has been missing for three years. She was taken from a beach in South Wales with her parents nearby when she was seven years old. When another girl, six year old, Poppy Devlin is taken from her bed while her parents are asleep under the same roof, Detective Sergeant Nathan Cody and his partner Detective Constable Megan Webley investigate whether the cases are connected.
Set in Liverpool like its predecessors, this is the third D.S. Cody book in the series after A Tapping at my Door (2016) and Hope to Die (2017) but the book doesn’t feel like it’s part of a series. And this is a very good thing. There are none of the obvious or stereotypical introductions to the characters and their back stories and it can easily be read as a standalone novel. After reading it however, I want to read the previous books in the series because of the masterfully constructed characters. The witty and easy dialogue between Nathan and Megan is incredibly natural and believable, and tells us all we need to know about their relationship. The fact that they dated in the past may seem cheesy or false but they never fall into cliche because of Jackson’s masterful writing. The book is incredibly dark, violent, and disturbing in places so the balance of the good-natured dialogue between the partners is greatly needed.
Although there are already lots of crime thrillers about missing children, this book stands out because of its focus on the kidnappers. Malcolm and Harriet Benson are portrayed as cruel and inhumane because they lock young girls in a room and never let them leave. But they are also portrayed as delusional and strangely childlike, thus turning the stereotypical portrayal of the kidnapper on its head. This is a couple who genuinely believe they are helping the girls and want to protect them from the outside world, turning them into strange saviours in their own minds. The events of the book are often focalised through the couple and they completely justify their actions at several points in the narrative, which turns them into either monstrous characters or pathetic figures depending on how you view it.
Another aspect of the book that differentiates it from the other missing children narratives out there are the chapters told from Daisy’s perspective as she tries to make sense of what has happened to her. It’s interesting that, after three years in captivity with the couple, she now understands them, knowing how to deal with them and even how to manipulate them. That is the most heartbreaking part of the book: Daisy knows what her captors are doing is wrong but she placates them so that they don’t hurt her. She tells us that they hurt her in the past. She obsessively plays out scenarios in her head of how she might be able to escape but she never trusts her instincts. What ultimately comes across is that Daisy is smarter than both Malcolm and Harriet but she doesn’t trust herself. The title of the book refers to how the Bensons control her but what could also be her means of escape from the claustrophobic room in which she is imprisoned.
The police procedural in literature and tv is known for its breathtaking pace and twisting plots but this book takes these to another level. The book never really slows down as moments of reprieve from the case are quickly taken up with the relationship between the partners.
Don’t Make a Sound demonstrates Jackson’s established mastery of the crime thriller and serves as a masterclass in how to build tension. The book is always thrilling and always frantic but is hugely enjoyable.
About the author
David Jackson is the bestselling author of Cry Baby. His debut novel, Pariah, was Highly Commended in the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Awards. He lives on the Wirral peninsula with his wife and two daughters. Follow David @Author_Dave.