Book Review: After The Silence

After The Silence
By Louise O’Neill

Riverrun, September 2020

Review by: Joyce Dignam

Ten years ago, at Keelin Kinsella’s birthday party, a young girl, Nessa Crowley was murdered. That night, a storm prevented anyone from leaving or entering the island of Inisrún. The killer was an islander and still, ten years later the case remains unsolved. Now, Australian filmmakers arrive on the island to make a documentary about the murder but along with that, they unveil for all the islanders the hurt that has been harbouring for ten years and the secrets that have been kept silent.

While the setup for this novel is a classic whodunit with suspects all trapped on the island and a number of them with a motive to kill, there is so much more on offer as well. At the heart of this story is a shedding of light on the realities of domestic abuse. The protagonist, Keelin Kinsella, fled her physically abusive husband with her son Alex before returning to the island and marrying the wealthy and illustrious Henry Kinsella. While Henry never treats Keelin like her ex-husband did, as the story unfolds, we find that much of his behaviour is the same. O’Neill captures the complexities of emotional abuse and it is clear she has done her research.

O’Neill writes thriller very well, building suspense and using the documentary makers as a literary device with their interviews peppered through the story. The novel feels very contemporary, with attention being paid to the heightened difficulty of the murder for the victims family and the accused because of social media and an obsession with true-crime. And at the same time, O’Neill couples this with the small-village mentality which traps and stifles her characters, in a similar way to emotional abuse.

This is O’Neill’s fifth novel and her first crime thriller. She has clearly proved she can master this genre, winning Crime Fiction Book of The Year at The An Post Irish Book Awards last night.

Louise O’Neill will be joining us this Sunday, November 29th in conversation with journalist and broadcaster Dil Wickremasinghe in the beautiful setting of the National Library of Ireland. Dil will be talking to Louise about her thrilling new novel. In partnership with The Murder One Festival.

This is a FREE event, tickets can be booked here