Silent Fear: James and Lance Morcan
Silence can be deadly when you do not hear your killer coming behind you. Right out of an Edgar Allan Poe mystery/short story the authors create scene that only two well-seasoned writers can create as we hear the voice and see the movements of a killer who has hidden a corpse behind a wall as he covers it up so methodically, so perfectly with each brick in a specific way and pattern behind the wall it looks seamless using one part cement, three parts sand and how he uses his trowel and positions it at the perfect angle proud of his work, defiant in many ways as he dares anyone to uncover his victim. No remorse, no feelings just killing someone in cold blood and admiring his handiwork. Jamie Lewis is part of the deaf community in a college where his murder is the first that the police are aware of and investigate. Added in we also learn that there is an epidemic the monkey flu that has ravaged many cities, countries and the death toll is rising. Detective Valerie Crowther is the lead in this investigation although her Superintendent ex-husband is her boss and monitors her every move. From the first time we meet her we realize that she is tough, no holes barred and insists that it’s her rules and hers only that everyone must adhere to. Asking for an office to do her work and somewhere to do her interviews she expects everyone from the Chancellor to the lead student who takes her on the tour of the university to understand that she and no one else is running the show. The students in this University and many of the staff members are deaf and when gathering them in one area she explains why she’s there, does not thank anyone for coming and expects them to adhere to her schedule and her method of investigation. While this is happening the Monkey Flu is spreading and too many are dying and for some reason but not for long the U.K. has not had one case as yet as uni Crowther is beginning her interviews and investigation a young college student is in the nurse’s office and being vigilant tests her for the flu and the end result is surprising as the school is now under quarantine. Targeting the deaf community and knowing this story is based on two real life incidents at two other universities makes it even more realistic and brings many messages to light. There are many media people that block entrances and want to get the full story but Surrey News reporter Hillary and her cameraman manage to follow someone else inside and gain some insight to the history of the university by managing to get a story with its founder but not before Hillary the crafty reporter insights the owner and asks if he bankrolls some of the deaf students going to the school. The first scenes with the students and their reaction to the murder are no different than if they were part of the hearing community. Some are profoundly deaf, some us hearing aids while others had cochlear implants that make it easier for them to hear and speak more clearly. Sometimes that can backfire when you think you are fooling others as the two that conned their way in wind up quarantined with the rest. But, that might be to their advantage as they are the only media on the scene. As a student in this school brings the Monkey Flu inside as the first person in England in this Deaf University in South Kensington. Students, staff and all lecturers want to continue on with classes but no one allowed in or out including the police. Many obstacles come her way but Chancellor Ron Fairbrother helps her inside the walls of the school. Facing many angry parents, students that are frustrated, scared and just wants their lives back to normalcy, he is tested to the nth degree as his emotions change and the energy is electric and charged. Dealing with parents, students and even the Prime Minister who is has her own take and will not budge just wanting the killer found.
Chief Superintendent Mark Bennett is her ex-husband who although she is running the case he wants to be informed every step of the way but higher ups did not want her to be the lead but she is the only one that can do sign language and communicate with the deaf students and staff.
Todd Rivers the lead student seems to have taken an unusual interest in Valerie in more ways than one. Bennett seems to feel that the case is closed when the evidence apparently pointed to the caregiver but that theory was short lived as he was found dead by hanging.
The killer is methodical and when a student named Dale decides to take an early morning swim because he is deaf and does not hear anyone enter the pool area nor does he see his killer until it’s too late. Found by one of the female students it leaves the staff, the student body and visitors who are quarantined because of the Monkey Flu outbreak fearing for their own lives. While Nurse Simons cares for all of the ill with little assistance from anyone, the killer Valerie realizes is hiding in the university in plain sight.
Hillary and Kent the two reporters managed to get pumped up to BBC to do their stories and they are relentless in taking advantage of being the only media on site for this story. Not caring about anything or anyone’s feelings or protocol, Hillary reports the death of Dale even before his parents learn about it and she even manages to video the patients that are in sick bay. To her it’s all about the story, the glory and fame.
Valerie is now on her own and has to solve another murder and do the autopsy hoping that she can come up with something to help the guys back at her station learn more about Dale’s death. At the forefront is the epidemic and the fact that the school has been bubble wrapped with no one coming in or out and supplies might be dwindling. The nurse now has the job of testing those that come down with the flu and dealing with deaths, wearing a Hazmat suit and hoping that the Chancellor can convince the Prime Minister to lift the quarantine and let the healthy people leave before everyone comes down with the flu. At the core is also the fact that Valerie and most of the students are able to understand British Sign Language and sign using BSL.
With no air conditioning, no fans and high temperatures, more than the heat will rise as tempers flare, arguments break out and a killer is still on the loose. The eerie part are the satanic rituals held in secret and led by one of the professors right under the nose of everyone but not seen.
Things spiral even more out of control when several difficult students decide to break out of the school when they see that there is a break in one of the windows. But, before they can even get near it one of the Indian students breaks out and what happens as a result is tragic.
Valerie reflects upon what is happening while several staff members assist the nurse but one seems fixated on something totally inappropriate and the students seem to be having social issues of their own. The gang within this school takes over whenever they enter a common room and you begin to wonder if the Monkey Flu and the killer are the only two deadly elements that this university has to be concerned with.
As the Chancellor tries to stay calm and the staff tries to keep it together you can feel the tension the authors created and you wonder what’s next?
At times Valerie finds herself at the mercy of three thugs but the scene that ensues in her room when they try to take her down is right out of a CSI episode letting the bad guys know never to mess with the cop. Taken down to the basement and placed under arrest this was far from the end of what would tragically take the college personnel, the community, the deaf community, teachers, lecturers, guards and remaining staff to a different level of fear and in some cases compassion.
Mark Bennett realizes that drastic measures need to be taken as the killer’s voice is prominent and heard when Katherine Lee and Lucas are the next victims. Katherine and Troy were lovers in a unique sense of the word because the last time you see her and realize the photos she’s showing the reader your opinion of her will change and Troy does not come out with knight in shining armor either. Despite everything and the murders Hillary and Kent do not miss a chance to broadcast live but when the bodies of those that succumbed to the Monkey Flu are about to be disposed of the insensitivity of both of them shines through.
Nurse Simons has rallied around all of the patients but sometimes good people suffer for the cause as you will learn. Wally Hynds has the job of figuring out why the CCTV cameras are tampered with and are always down while the killer views everything from an unusual vantage point and more deaths are in the future of everyone quarantined.
Volunteer guards like Sean Mcllvoy walked the halls to check on those that are there while Bennett and one other manages to do the impossible when learning more about the one place he might be able to enter the school when he learns that Valerie is now a victim of the killer and before she dies he won’t stop at anything to save her but will it be in time?
Just who is the killer and what is the motive? When someone close to the school dies the hidden truth comes out that will shock readers as to how far someone will go to eliminate four others, the reason and the prize at the end of the proverbial rainbow of death. Greed, power, lust, satanic rituals, erotic interludes, unprofessional behavior, fear, students that rally round each other for support, protests to free the quarantined and one Chancellor who does not give up until the final scene is played out and you won’t believe the ending.
This story presents research through Hillary and the nurse about the Monkey Flu, the causes and how it spreads but mostly it shows the important of understanding the deaf community and their strengths and how the school tried to improve their abilities to communicate in a hearing world. Authors Lance and James Morcan bring all of the issues to light. The ending will allow readers to know that sometimes harsh realities express the true meaning of what the authors created in this outstanding novel which includes hope and the will to survive. Life, Death, Hearing vs. non-hearing: Silent Fear: The hearing within the novel lived their own private silent war within themselves hoping to survive while the deaf lived it too.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine.