Title: Mute Witness
Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: DSP Publications
Release Date: February 9, 2016
Page Count: 290
Reviewed by: LenaRibka
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
The abuse of a little boy turns a community against a loving gay couple, and nobody comes out of it unscathed.
Sean and Austin have the perfect life: new love, a riverfront home, security. Their love for one another is only multiplied when Sean’s eight-year-old son, Jason, visits on the weekends.
And then their perfect world shatters.
Jason goes missing.
When the boy turns up days later, he’s been so horribly abused he’s lost the power to speak. Immediately small town minds turn to the boy’s gay father and his lover as the likely culprits. What was a warm, welcoming community becomes a lynching party out for blood.
As Sean and Austin struggle to stay together amidst innuendo, the very real threat of Sean losing the son he loves emerges. Yet the true villain is much closer to home, intent on ensuring the boy’s muteness is permanent.
It is not an easy book to read, and not an easy book to review. I knew when I picked it up that it deals with a heavy topic – just read the blurb!
Sean and Shelley, the parents of eight-year-old Jason, are divorced and each of them has a new life with a new partner. They both love their son above all things. When Jason suddenly disappears, their world falls apart. A few days later he turns up, but something really terrible happened to him: the kid is severely abused and horribly beaten, so that a police officer who first sees him in a hospital isn’t even able to recognize him, even though his picture is everywhere all over the city. Jason is emotionally traumatized and physically shaken, he doesn’t speak, and it is not possible to question him to find out who did it to him. So, the only person who could shed light on what happened to him, and it is Jason, is not in mental, physical or emotional condition to do it.
I didn’t expect that I’d know very soon WHO did it to him. It is not a book where an author plays a cat-and-mouse game with his readers, throwing riddles at his audience. Even if this book deals with such serious crimes like child abuse and a murder case, I won’t necessarily qualify it as a suspense mystery.
I don’t think that the author here wanted to show a perfect investigation, but that
** prejudices and biases still dominate the public opinion,
** very often people are too quick to make wrong conclusions,
** how fragile even the most proved relationships could become in a tough time,
** how crises can break harmony between couples and families,
** how pure emotions, even if they were ruled by the best intentions, are not always helpful to solve all problems.
And in my opinion Rick R. Reed succeeded in it.
Though as a passionate mystery reader, I can’t ignore the crime investigation that left me slightly unsatisfied. I had my problems the way investigations were conducted and I wasn’t convinced by methods of the detective Hugh Allen. For this reason it wasn’t very surprising that the crimes has been solved not by the local police department, but simply by chance.
This book is very well written, and even if I prefer the first person POV, and I don’t belong to the fans of changing POVs, I think this way of telling was pretty suitable for the plot structure, and helped to see the story from all possible perspectives. Rick R. Reed has a flowing and smooth writing style, and in spite of a disturbing and depressing subject, Mute Witness is fast-paced and a real page turner.
Mute Witness can’t deliver you a conventional HEA. I just can’t stop thinking about Jason and how his life will continue further. Solving the crimes won’t solve the healthy problems that this boy hast to deal with, and I don’t mean his physical wounds, but mental ones that left deep scars in his young soul. I wish this kid the best, but I doubt that he will be able ever completely recover from severe damage that this monster done to him.
Still despite a heavy topic and my weak complaints about some issues in the plot, it is an enjoyable read, though the word “enjoyable” feels out of place here – heart wrenching, horrifying and shocking were the better choice.
Advance Review Copy
the publisher in exchange of an honest review.