Back in March 2021 I was asked to read a rather unique and interesting book called Backstories that featured 14 intimate tales about famous people that you think you know; it was unique because the stories didn’t tell you who they were about – you had to turn detective and turn to work out who they were from clues within the tales. The author, Simon Van der Velde did an excellent job, it was an excellent and ingenious book that was fun to read and got the brain ticking over. Facts, fun and fantastic reading.
A year later the author was in touch again with a new book – a departure from Backstories in that this new book is his debut novel. I loved the writing and intrigue of Backstories but the blurb for The Silent Brother sounded right up my street.
The Silent Brother is set in ‘90s Newcastle and is a story of family, poverty, love and redemption. The story follows Tommy through his traumatic childhood right up to his coming of age as a teenage drug-dealer in Newcastle.
Synopsis: When his beloved little brother is stolen away, five-year-old Tommy Farrier is left alone with his alcoholic mam, his violent step-dad and his guilt. Too young to understand what has really happened, Tommy is sure of only one thing. He is to blame.
Tommy tries to be good, to live-up to his brother’s increasingly hazy memory, but trapped in a world of shame and degradation he grows up with just two options; poverty or crime. And crime pays.
Or so he thinks.
A teenage drug-dealer for the vicious Burns gang, Tommy’s life is headed for disaster, until, in the place he least expects, Tommy sees a familiar face…
And then things get a whole lot worse.
The Silent Brother is an extremely gritty and dark crime thriller giving a real glimpse of how life growing up in the north-east of England during the ‘90s was and using drink, drugs and crime as a way out. It doesn’t pull any punches and is an excellent tale of how even despite a bad start in life love can forgive and redeem everything and make you a better person.
Overall, The Silent Brother is a very powerful novel that could very well be true for a lot a people. I really enjoyed reading about Tommy and Annie, their love for each other and their journey from childhood to adulthood, from poverty to a life of crime to … well you’ll just have to read the book to find out what.
Whilst the story is a work of fiction, it is a very dark, gritty and lives in the real world of the 1990’s. It doesn’t feature gratuitous violence, it certainly is not politically correct and it can be at times an emotional read with very real likeable/unlikeable characters that create an intense and enjoyable story. The characters are very dark but to be honest they all feel very real, and through the darkness you are always within touching distance of light with Tommy’s love for his younger brother Benjy and the love of his life Annie.
The Silent Brother is a dark, intense gritty read that certainly doesn’t hold back and doesn’t go over the top – you could be reading a biography of someone’s life. An excellent well-written, deeply engaging read.
RRP: £8.99 (Paperback) / £2.99 (Kindle)