A Stain on the Silence
Hyperion, Feb 16 2010, $15.99
Lily Murtheston calls twice asking to speak to Jamie. Since he turned sixteen, everyone calls him James except for one woman back two decades ago when he was in his twenties; so he is taken aback but decides to learn what Lily wants. He muses about being thirteen when he met Lily through her marrying Hugh, the father of his best friend in school Carlo. Dying Lily is in a hospice in Wembley. He goes to see her; Lily informs Jamie that he fathered a child with her years ago; a daughter in trouble needing her father. He insists Katie’s father is Lily’s husband Hugh, but Lily says Jamie owes her.
James meets his daughter Katie just before he leaves the hospice for his home where his wife Nicky is leaving for her book club meeting. Pregnant Katie expects to be arrested for the murder of her former fiancé Sean. She demands her biological father help her; James is confused what to do as his perfect life has been nuked but also fears telling his wife.
This is a fascinating character study of a man who seems to have his life together only to find it collapse with the first troubling intrusion, the knowledge of a daughter he sired during an affair over twenty years ago surfaces. Readers will be stunned by how far James will go to avoid confrontation even not telling his wife; though he fails each time he chooses dodging an altercation behind a denial of responsibilities as a defense mechanism to reduce his anxiety, which never works. Although suspense comes extremely late with a clever Hitchcockian psychological twist, fans will enjoy the aptly titled A Stain on the Silence