Deadly Silence

Title: Deadly Silence
Author: Victor J. Banis
Publisher: MLR Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary Murder Mystery
Length: Novel
Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn

One Sentence Review: Though I had some mixed feelings about this book, it’s a must-read for fans of the series

THE BLURB

The hospital says it was an accident. Patience Pendleton says someone is trying to murder her father — but who? Her demented twin, Prudence? Or Farley, the jilted fiancée, who thought he would be marrying money? Or Zack, the queer brother threatened with disinheritance? Or, might it be the ghosts of past evil…?

THE REVIEW

Deadly Silence is book five of Victor J. Banis’ wonderful Deadly mystery series (all reviewed on this site) starring former San Francisco Police Inspectors — and current private investigators — Stanley Korski and Tom Danzel. Readers should note that while this conceivably could be read as a standalone, I definitely wouldn’t advise it as the previous installments build up the characters and give insight to thoughts and actions.  Start with Deadly Nightshade and work your way though.

The story begins with our heroes being hired by Patience, a woman who wants them to look into the claim that someone tried to murder her father while he convalesces in a nursing home. Stanley and Tom both agree that there is something she isn’t telling him, but the cast of characters make it difficult to figure out what. Her drug-addled twin sister, Prudence, their gay brother, Zack, and Prudence’s fiancée, Farley, all have motive for wanting the older man dead. In the meantime, Stanley is finding himself restless and having a crisis of…something. Is it possible he is just not cut out to have a monogamous relationship no matter how much he loves Tom?

This was a difficult review for me to write because I had some mixed feelings after reading this latest installment of the Deadly series, and while what I say here may make it seem as if I didn’t like the book, that is not so. It is no secret that I am a big fan of this series, but at 170 pages, this is the shortest of the five books, and in my opinion, the weakest of the set. Don’t get me wrong; Victor Banis pens better stories than most authors out there today and it is still head and shoulders above the rest, but it just seemed a little…off to me. I wouldn’t even call my feelings issues or niggles, just an overall feeling that it wasn’t as good as the previous books. I thought the mystery element was a little less complex here, and I suspected the reveal long before it was brought to light. That didn’t lessen my enjoyment, it just was. I also found that this book, perhaps more so than the others, was introspective, somber and a bit angsty. There isn’t a ton of action, and Stanley doesn’t get himself into a jam as he is wont to do in the previous installments (allowing for Tom to come to his rescue often in dramatic fashion), making it a bit more sedate of a read.

At the base of the stories is the relationship between our heroes Stanley and Tom. We’re now about seven months into their relationship and there are some speed bumps, as many couples experience, but maybe theirs are somewhat more challenging. Unfortunately, there are fundamental differences between these two that will probably always make it tough for them, namely that Stanley is a “fag” and Tom isn’t. Tom has come a long way since book one and loves Stanley almost desperately, but he isn’t gay and doesn’t like those aspects of Stanley that are. Although Stanley understands, it is hurtful to him that there are parts of him that Tom will never be able to love or accept, making him consider acting a bit recklessly in this story (or as his best friend Chris says “He’s just working himself up to do something silly.”) and me wonder— though I trusted the author not to crush me or them — how it would turn out:

Given his druthers, Stanley would far rather have gone back to his decorating job, only Tom disapproved of that. It was “too gay.”

“But I am gay,” Stanley had argued, to no avail. That was something else Tom would never understand, probably. Tom didn’t see himself as gay, or even their relationship as gay; he was just in love. And he didn’t want to be in love with a decorator. Period. End of discussion. Only, there really hadn’t been any discussion, not on this point. Unilaterally, that was how Tom had settled the question.

Tom is perhaps the more simple of the two men, even by his own admission, and we pretty much always know what is going on in his mind. He may not always comprehend what is going on with either himself or Stanley, but he tries. I really felt for Tom here, even more so than Stanley, because in some ways I can relate to him as someone who is in a same-sex relationship who doesn’t consider herself lesbian. Here is a telling quote:

…there was much about Stanley Tom didn’t understand, including, he often thought, their entire relationship

For supporting cast, Chris and Inspector Bryce (who has it bad for Tom) reappear, the latter playing somewhat of a larger overall role in the story even though his onscreen time is limited. The three sibs and the fiancée make up the majority of the others, though there are a few extras that are involved.

I think one of the things I thought was absent here that was present in the previous books was humor. Like I said, the story is fairly somber and angsty — and even a little dark with Stanley’s thoughts — and I admit that I missed the at-times hilarious dialog between our protags and laugh-out-loud situations that often crop up. For me, what Stanley was going through seemed to permeate the entire book, even when the focus was on the mystery element. This wasn’t necessarily bad, it was just that I grieved a little at the loss of the lightness that was laced through the other installments.

OVERALL

Regardless of the little…whatevers I was feeling, Deadly Silence is a must-read for fans of the series, of the author, or mystery lovers.

8 comments

  • Thanks, all for the review and the comments. I confess, Deadly Silence was a difficult book for me too, in many ways, but I think it takes an honest course. These two guys have lots to work out (and, yes, they insist I write another one – I’ll try to make it less somber.) But I have to be true to their characters. This just had to come out with Stanley. But, for the record, I had serious reservations about publishing it at all. My beta readers and my editor, Kris Jacen, persuaded me to go ahead with it. I knew it would be difficult for some of my readers, but I am grateful that they give me the room to work with my guys.

    Reply
  • As usual Lynn you went straight to the heart of this series. It was only a matter of time before Stanley started to rebel against Tom’s decisions for both of them. From the first book I sensed that Stanley wanted to remain as a decorator and that the PI business was not his first choice. I hope that this unhappiness does not lead to him thinking of being unfaithful to Stanley (well, he can think but not do) 🙂

    The humour between Stanley and Tom was one of the trademarks of this series and it’s a pity that it’s not more evident in Deadly Silence. I suppose we have been spoiled by Victor.

    Reply
    • It was only a matter of time before Stanley started to rebel against Tom’s decisions for both of them. From the first book I sensed that Stanley wanted to remain as a decorator and that the PI business was not his first choice.

      Yes, exactly. Stanley even mentions that he’s tired of Tom’s unilateral decision-making about a number of things, his job choice being one of them.

      The humour between Stanley and Tom was one of the trademarks of this series and it’s a pity that it’s not more evident in Deadly Silence. I suppose we have been spoiled by Victor.

      I feel the same way. I can live with a more somber book (Stanley’s feelings really do flow through and that was okay), but I did feel the loss. Regardless, D Slumber definitely not worth missing.

      Reply
  • I totally agree with all of your points on this one. I really liked it but it lacked something at the same time. It’s a great series though.

    Reply
  • Ah, I was waiting for you to review this one. ^^

    I still have to read the book, but since it seems our taste and reactions to the various books are similar, I’ll take this review as a good sign, regardless of your mixed feelings. Because, I always wondered if Stanley would want to mutiny against Tom’s views on things “too gay”. We can love someone and be loved in return, but there is always that desire to be completely accepted. I really, really want to know how Victor deals with it. I like his sense of humor (Stanley is simply a gem), but there is also a shadow in Stanley’s character that wasn’t much explored since the first book.

    It’s terribly difficult to write a series and it’s good to know that Victor is still better than most of them out there. I admit freely, I am one of his biggest fans. His writing just touches something in me. I often return to his stories. I think I’ve read Coming Home at least a dozen times. And Deadly Silence goes to the top of my TBR pile.

    Thank you for the review!

    Reply
    • Hi LadyM. Thanks for commenting.

      I knew my review might indicate otherwise, but I really liked the book regardless of my feelings about it. It may have been, imo, a slightly weaker book than the others, but compared to other books and authors, it’s superior.

      I always wondered if Stanley would want to mutiny against Tom’s views on things “too gay”.

      This is very much in play among other related things. It’s weighing on him and making him think darker thoughts.

      Anyway, enjoy and let us know what you think.

      Reply

Please comment! We'd love to hear from you.

%d bloggers like this: