By the end of the first chapter of The Other Side of Silence—maybe by the end of the first page—Pronzini traps the reader in a sympathetic bond with Rick Fallon, a corporate security officer with a desert full of personal baggage.  Pronzini tells his story through the development of his characters, some of them predictable, like the thug Bobby J, most of them a surprise, like the twist at the end.

Fallon and his ex-wife disagree on the value of silence.  He craves it.  She prefers crowded rooms and bright lights.  After the death of their son and the ensuing divorce, Fallon retreats to the Death Valley in search of inner peace, quiet, and purpose.

His discovery of the near-dead body of Casey Dunbar interrupts his solitary wanderings.  She is without resources, has been used and abused, and has given up her search for her son, Kevin, a victim of parental kidnapping.  A picture of Kevin, reminds him of his own lost little boy, and the image moves him to help reunite this mother and child.  Against her will, he rescues her and injects himself into her problems.

The search isn’t as straightforward Fallon anticipates.  Casey withholds key information, and her ex-husband has hidden himself and the boy well.  Fallon blurs the edges of the law as he bullies information from reluctant sources, tangles with Bobby J, and follows the curving, rutted trail leading to the child.

Pronzini deftly describes the desert, bringing life and beauty to its shifting shadows and the sun-baked terrain.  On the other side of the desert’s silence is Las Vegas.  There he captures the less savory avenues, avoiding the bright lights of the Vegas Strip in favor of the darker side.

The Other Side of Silence is a satisfying and entertaining page-turner.

ISBN 13 978-0-8027-1713-0
Walker & Company
October 2008

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