Rosamund Lupton’s newest suspense thriller – The Quality of Silence – had my undivided attention throughout the day. Following a mother and her deaf daughter as they drove a ten ton rig in a fast-paced chase through the Arctic cold, I could not put the book down until I finished. What a ride.
The story focuses on Ruby, a clever ten year old who was born deaf, and her mother, Yasmin, a beautiful astrophysicist, as they search for Matt, father and husband presumed to be dead in a lethal explosion at an Eskimo village. Not willing to believe he is dead, the mother and daughter hitch a ride along the Dalton Highway in Alaska to the Arctic Circle to find him. When the driver of the truck has a stroke, Yasmin takes the wheel to drive into a snowstorm and across narrow frozen rivers. Afraid to leave Ruby to try to communicate with strangers, she takes her along, but when they realize they are being followed, the tension escalates.
Villains come from obvious as well as insidious sources. Lupton uses the effects of fracking on the environment as the major villain in the story, with sharp observations about its effects on the ecosystem, and the dire consequences for the environment in the future. As a ten year old deaf child, Ruby feels excluded from friends at her mainstreamed school as she deals with silent bullies. And, Yasmin worries that her wildlife documentary-maker husband, Matt, who has been working for months in the Arctic night, has betrayed her with an Inupiaq woman; his last email – “I kissed her because I missed you.”
Lupton cleverly uses Ruby’s young voice as a distraction from the terror, and grounds the story in the family dynamics. Ruby’s optimism was often a welcome distraction from the nail-biting drama.
All ends well with the bad guys getting their due, thanks to Ruby and her tech savvy. Once again, Lupton delivers a satisfying and compelling tale. All of Lupton’s books offer a thrilling ride, but this one was chilling.
I look forward to the next one.
Reviews of Other Lupton books: