Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Tahoe Silence by Todd Borg

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Tahoe Silence by Todd Borg. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Tahoe Silence by Todd Borg

Tahoe Silence by
An Owen McKenna Mystery

Thriller Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-931296-15-4 (1931296154)
ISBN-13: 978-1-931296-15-1 (9781931296151)
Publication Date: August 2007
List Price: $16.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Seventeen-year-old Silence Ramirez is an exceptional artist. She also has autism and has never spoken a word in her life. When she is kidnapped, it appears she's been taken by a gang of bikers whose charismatic leader quotes Aztec commands from Aztec gods. Detective Owen McKenna seems unable to learn anything about the case until Silence figures out how to sneak drawings of her kidnappers out of the house where she is held captive. Owen uncovers the identities of the biker-kidnappers, but that doesn't help him find Silence or even learn why she was taken. Silence knows why she was kidnapped, but that knowledge is locked up inside her mind.

As McKenna studies her drawings, he comes to a horrible conclusion. The kidnappers plan to kill Silence in a ritual Aztec sacrifice at the next full moonrise, an event that is only hours away ...

Review: Former detective turned private investigator Owen McKenna investigates the kidnapping of an autistic young girl in Tahoe Silence, the fifth mystery in this series by Todd Borg, set on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe.

SalAnne Ramirez, a 17-year-old girl diagnosed with autism and nicknamed Silence since she's never spoken a word in her life, and her younger brother Charlie are outside their home when they are suddenly kidnapped, the only clue being that the roar of a motorcycle was heard at the same time they were taken. Fearing the police won't take their disappearance seriously, their mother hires McKenna to find them. Though the leader of a motorcycle gang seems to be the most likely suspect, McKenna begins his investigation by assuming she was not taken at random, but for some specific purpose. When her brother Charlie is found murdered, McKenna's forced to rethink his position, that maybe the gang is responsible and as a result he starts down a path that puts his own life in danger.

When speaking to someone about Silence's autism, McKenna is asked how her condition figures into the kidnapping. He replies, "I don't know. But because her autism is such a prominent facet of her personality, the better I understand autism, the better I will understand how she will respond to her current situation, how she will react if we can make a rescue attempt. It may even suggest why she was targeted in the first place." That statement summarizes both the strong and weak points of Tahoe Silence. On the positive side, the author recognizes that autism is likely to be a little understood disorder by readers of his book and thus makes an effort to educate them on what autism is and how it is diagnosed. But Borg seems too eager to show off the considerable research he has put into the subject. A more tightly edited version of the book would have eliminated a large number of extraneous pages without compromising how autism factors into McKenna's investigation and without any loss of continuity in the plot.

Borg cleverly uses an Aztec ritual that is performed on the night of a full moon as a way of introducing a time element into the story. At several points, McKenna notes the number of days until the full moon which effectively generates and maintains a sense of urgency in locating Silence. And as is typical of books in this series, Spot, McKenna's Harlequin Great Dane, plays an important role.

Far too much incidental information and the oddly incongruous happily-ever-after epilogue prevent Tahoe Silence from being the best in this series, but it is very good nonetheless.

Special thanks to Thriller Press for providing a copy of Tahoe Silence for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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  1. So if you had to choose one in the series, which would you consider the best?

    I'm inclined to start at the beginning but that sometimes isn't always the best course of action.
    Best wishes

  2. Definitely start at the beginning. We've read 4 of the 5 books (we didn't have a chance to review the 4th in the series). Our first two reviews were included in a printed newsletter we distributed several years ago before we moved everything to the web, and we haven't (yet) put those online. But our review of Tahoe Ice Grave, the third in the series, is available.

    Though Borg is clearly a talented writer with a real flair for descriptive narrative, plotting is not his strongest suit. His books are characterized as thrillers and probably should be judged primarily as such. Using thriller as the primary criterion, therefore, we'd put Tahoe Blowup as the best to date.


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