Wednesday 15 June 2022

The Silent Brother by Simon Van Der Velde Fiction Book Review

The Silent Brother is a brand new release from author Simon Van Der Velde, who sent me a copy for review. I'm glad he did, because it's been an excellent read, and actually a book which has stayed with me, as it has a depth and relevance I couldn't have seen coming, and actually a lighter ending which doesn't leave you feeling demoralised. 

Subtitled as a Literary Thriller, The Silent Brother is a life story for one fictional person, Tommy, and by the end of the book we've grown up with him, and really do know him incredibly well. 

Silhouette of young man in a window book cover

We begin with 5 year old Tommy living with his alcohol-loving Mum and her boyfriend, Daryl. Daryl is a hard man for any child to live with, aggressive, jealous, violent and a heavy drinker. I feel that he's possibly very young to be raising children and it's not where he wants to be. 

Simon absolutely nails my childhood in the 70's. Looking back now, it really was rough, so I was surprised to discover that actually The Silent Brother was set in the late 80's/early 90's. His account hit so many buttons, I'd never be able to explain it in a book review. I'm a 50 year old woman who has spent the last 3 weeks revisiting my childhood and teenage years, and the relationships I had with the people around me. 
The scene with his brother Benjy hiding at the back of a cupboard, in the space between the back board and the wall, I've been there. The fear of your adults, and the crap TV. The acceptance of physical punishment being "a good hiding", as if any "good" could ever come of it. I was hurled back 40 years to places I'd forgotten existed, and I closed the book being grateful I'd always chosen the less destructive path, glad for what I have and also a little sad, as I remember the not-so-great times. It's a sad jolt back to Earth to think that 20 years later time had stood still, and to realise that for some now, it's still just the same. Anyway, I digress...

Tommy becomes involved in crime early on in life, and in the book, and you can clearly see that he is a product of the events that occurred in his life, the people around him, and chance timing. What you realise is just how easily someone's life path can change. A single brief exchange can alter everything. 

The writing is incredibly immersive, and you get a real picture of exactly where you are, just by the way the author picks out a few details. As Tommy grows up and his life takes some darker turns, you lose the rainbow of his childhood, and are placed in dimly lit nightclubs and dingy offices. It's a clever visual for your mind, and acts like a teaspoon of Marmite in your Bolognese, it brings more depth. There is a lot of depth in Simon's writing.

A really excellent read, in a gangster/thriller/fly-on-the-wall type of genre I enjoy in movies, but don't usually choose in a book. Simon Van Der Velde has proven that he didn't just have a very clever idea with his first book, Backstories (which I reviewed here), he can pull a great yarn out of thin air too. 

The Silent Brother is written by Simon Van Der Velde and available to buy now, 368 pages, paperback, £8.99. Also available on Kindle - handy Amazon affiliate link.

I was sent a pre-release e-book copy of The Silent Brother for review. Amazon links are affiliate, which earns me a few pence if you buy through my link, but you never pay a penny more. 

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