The novel “Into the Silence” by Sarah Pinborough was published for the first time in 2009.
A singer from a choir rehearsing in a church is brutally killed. The attack left his corpse without his vocal cords, which were removed with considerable surgical skills. The other members of the choir are in shock. DI Tom Cutler passes the investigation to Torchwood and it’s not the first time he has worked with them.
That murder is only the first and the murderer seems to be tied to a certain modus operandi in his actions. Cardiff hosts the Welsh Amateur Operatic Contest and this means that there are a lot of singers in the city, all potential victims for the murderer. To find him before he kills who knows how many people, a normal investigation is not enough.
“Into the Silence” is part of a series of novels connected to the TV show “Torchwood“, a “Doctor Who” spinoff. The size is the same as “Doctor Who” books starting from the Eleventh Doctor. In the first books the font was smaller while in the following one the font is the same size as in “Doctor Who” books.
“Into the Silence” is set between the second and third season of the TV show “Torchwood” and has a linear story that contains elements typical of this series. A murder with various oddities draws the attention of Captain Jack Harkness’s team, whose investigation suggests that the killer might be alien.
A policeman initially involved in the crime scene examination already collaborated with Torchwood in the past, paying the price. He’s an interesting character because on other occasions Gwen got the help of some former colleague of the police but usually it was about getting information. In this case there’s a policeman who already worked actively with Torchwood with negative personal consequences and yet in “Into the Silence” he collaborates with Captain Jack Harkness’s team. In the end, his personal story is the part of the novel I found most interesting.
Torchwood stories tend not to be full of joy but “Into the Silence” is in a various ways negative even by the standards of this series. In addition to Jack Harkness, Gwen Cooper and Ianto Jones, there are parts of the story related to various characters and in all cases an underlying theme is typically that of the difficulty in finding connections with other people reaching the extreme with an autistic child. As if this weren’t enough, the relatives of the victims and of some potential victims seem to have serious problems.
The main problem of “Into the Silence” for me is that it seems too inspired by stories seen in episodes of the TV shows “Doctor Who” and “Torchwood”. The lack of originality already does little to stimulate excitement in reading a novel but when I find myself reading a story so full of “inspirations” I tend to get distraced because I end up thinking about the works the various elements were taken from. In this novel at least it’s positive that the ending includes a less depressing variant of endings seen in other cases.
The story of the alien who kills singers becomes interesting in the final part of “Into the Silence”, when the reasons for his actions are revealed. That’s a character who becomes interesting with the progressive discovery of his nature. In the end I wanted him to be more of a protagonist from the beginning.
My other problem with “Into the Silence” concerns the most subjective part of the novel: singing is a central theme but I just couldn’t get interested in it. The combination with the “been there done that” feeling led me to find the novel sometimes boring. Maybe my impression could’ve been different if Ianto had been used more in that part of the story, instead I appreciated him in his remembering Toshiko while using her computer.
In the end, “Into the Silence” is a novel with ups and down and not very suited to my tastes. Probably readers who find singing interesting will be able to appreciate it more, otherwise I recommend it to the ones who want to have the complete collection of Torchwood novels.