Review: Silent City (A Claire Codella Mystery) by Carrie Smith
Source: ARC courtesy of Crooked Lane Books. Thank you!
Publication: October 13, 2015
Verdict: Very Good
NYPD Detective Claire Codella has just won a tough battle with cancer. Now she has to regain her rightful place on the force. she hasn’t even been back a day when Hector Sanchez, a maverick public school principal, is found murdered. The school is on high alert. The media is howling for answers. And Codella catches the high-profile case at the worst possible time.
As she races to track down the killer, she uncovers dirty politics, questionable contracts, and dark secrets. Each discovery she makes brings her closer to the truth, but the truth may cost Codella her life.
Silent City, the strong crime fiction debut from Carrie Smith is a title that is ripe for fans of Law & Order, NYPD Blue and other character-filled procedurals. As a reader and viewer who enjoys reading thrillers and watching taut legal dramas, I found Smith’s debut to be a satisfying read, teeming with scandal and character revelations.
Back to work with the NYPD after being diagnosed with and beating cancer, Detective Claire Codella is immediately assigned to work on a case involving the gruesome death of a publicly-lauded high school principle. Without much preamble or introduction, readers are introduced to Codella by way of her foray into the crime scene of Hector Sanchez’s murder. Over the detailed course of Sanchez’s murder investigation, we’re treated to a intricate look into the lives of a multitude of characters- including some major disclosures about Sanchez himself. In a third-person narrative that shifts between Codella, her police cohorts, teachers, school administrators and parents, readers are treated to a story filled with deception, affairs, cover-up attempts, and power-hungry individuals…and more murder.
Claire Codella is another protagonist in a crime fiction series that I found myself a firm fan of; I do hope that we get to read more investigations featuring her and her colleagues. The chapters detailing Codella’s cancer treatments as well as the sections revealing her relationship with her former partner were, in particular, raw and compelling, and offered an added dimension to a character that might have been too simply written-off as a ‘tough female cop’. I think Smith also excelled in what I will call the ‘behind closed doors’ of characters: when glossier facades of characters fade and the gritty realities of the lives and secrets of characters are slowly revealed. I will note that I found there to be an overabundance of characters- including many undefined or formulaic ones- that led to some difficulty in keeping track of everyone mentioned, but I do appreciate how the focus on the overarching story remained.
Overall, I found Silent City to be an enjoyable crime fiction title. There are a few detractors including a congestion of characters, and the use of stereotype to define some characters, but all in all, Smith has crafted a solid suspense novel. Readers who tend toward police-focused and character-filled (and character-driven) thrillers, will find a compelling protagonist in Codella and likely relish how Smith maintains a carefully plotted and intricately woven story.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review.