Author: Heather Gudenkauf
We try to offer a range of genres for book club; I then try to separate the genres as I read but that doesn’t always work. I have just read another psychological thriller, we seem to have a lot of them at the moment.
Not A Sound is the latest offering by NYT bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf. I read One Breath Away on it’s release way back in 2012 (I didn’t realise it was so long ago) and really enjoyed it so when I saw this new one being released I jumped at the chance to offer it to book club readers.
Amelia Winn is a passionate sexual assault nurse who is tragically injured by a hit and run driver as she walks a patient to her car after her release from the hospital. Stacey is killed instantly in the collision and Amelia is left with life-changing injuries and an ongoing need to know who may have been driving the car.
Fast forward two years and Amelia is finally starting to find her feet and put her life back together. The accident left her deaf and without her hearing her physical recovery wasn’t enough to get her back to work so she spiraled into a dark depression and sought relief at the bottom of a bottle, ultimately taking away everything else in her life that meant anything to her.
Finally Amelia is finding her way in her new world with the help of her service dog Stitch and her proximity to dense woods and Five Mines river. A paddle on the river or a run through the woods is a great distraction when the temptation for a drink gets too strong, it’s a great way to clear the mind and relieve stress.
One morning Amelia is out for an early paddle before a job interview, her first major step back into society. Instead of clearing her mind Amelia discovers a body floating in the river and gets caught up in a murder investigation. The media doesn’t release her name as the witness but the 911 call she makes does a pretty convincing job of identifying her.
Amelia was an unusual heroine, she suffered injury induced deafness and I can only imagine how difficult that would be to learn to live with. I can see how it would make learning to lip read a little easier and she was still able to talk which I think would make things a little easier, though she was never quite sure on her voice modulation and that definitely makes for some awkward situations.
I think the biggest struggle Amelia faced was the blow to her career. She was still capable, qualified and passionate about her nursing skills but unable to conceive of working with patients when hearing impaired; that’s what spiraled her into an alcoholic haze and now that she’s dragging herself out of it the discovery of a body in her sanctuary is almost enough to send her back to the bottle.
The victim is someone Amelia knows, they were good friends until Amelia locked everyone out of her world and it hits her hard that there’s now no going back. Amelia knows she should leave the investigation to the police, and one of the detectives is her big brother’s best friend, but she can’t seem to let go and leave it to them.
Amelia has been working hard to get her life back; to prove to her estranged husband that she has her life back under control so he should give her a second chance and allow her more access into Nora’s life. Countless times throughout the story Amelia reminds us that Nora is her stepdaughter and so she has no legal rights, any contact she has is down to what her ex-husband chooses to allow her.
Gudenkauf has woven a tight and suspenseful story that threw enough curve balls to keep me guessing. There were a couple of options that were easily dismissed but also some storylines that I would not have seen coming.
There is an under current of romantic tension and a possible love triangle which I’m still not quite sure how I feel about. In no way is Not A Sound a romance, nor is there a secondary romantic storyline but that element of tension is there. Amelia wants her husband back, she misses her life with him and her time with Nora. But does she really want him back?
The big brother’s best friend, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone to learn that Amelia had a crush on him growing up. What girl didn’t crush on at least one of her big brother’s friends. The feelings fade, life goes on and you forget about it. But sometimes you become good friends and you are there to share in each other’s lives. Amelia is sure that Jake sees her as a little sister; he looks out for her and for the most part he doesn’t take her seriously. She will always be the annoying kid sister even if she is all grown up and doing her own clandestine investigations into the murder.
I enjoyed the pacing, I wasn’t left thinking that it just needed to hurry up and have something happen already and I enjoyed that there were so many options for my mind to explore as we started uncovering clues and getting closer to the murderer.
Heather Gudenkauf writes an intense story with an interesting heroine and an uncomfortable storyline. I hope our book club readers enjoy it as much as I did.