Review: Silent Scream by Barry Hoffman

cover of Silent Scream by Barry HoffmanSilent Scream by Barry Hoffman
Gordian Knot Books/Crossroads Press (May 2021)
298 pages; $14.99 paperback; $4.99 e-book

Reviewed by Rick Hipson

Inspired (or most likely angered) by the real-life public murder of Kitty Genovese, Barry Hoffman delivers another character-driven novel in which we’re forced to ask tough questions about our own morality and values. Each character is dissected and examined with surgical precision, and long-time readers of Hoffman should recognize some familiar names in the crowd.

Danai, a rookie cop, must traverse the sticky red tape of bureaucracy within the Pennsylvania police department when a series of gruesome murders hits a little too close to home. Living in the inner-city projects is precarious enough, but when a sixteen-year-old girl is raped in plain site of neighbors who watch with wide eyes and sealed lips, even the gangs are on edge when some of their own start dying in strange and savage ways. Connecting the murders with how her dad was killed in front of her as a young girl, Danai confronts Lieutenant Morales about her suspicions and is reluctantly given the go ahead to dig deeper.

However, the deeper Danai digs, unexpected truths gather momentum until she and Morales have no choice but to believe in a reality not meant to exist. Shapeshifting beasts should not belong at the top of their suspect list.

In trademark fashion, the author firmly straddles the line of dark thriller and social commentary within a borderless landscape to fully explore the beasts within and beyond each character. We’re treated to a coming-of-age story of sorts as Danai struggles internally with her own image and sexuality among a fraternity of cops long known for their intolerance of such things. An alluring bounty Hunter named BJ further complicates matters by unveiling secrets about the prey they share while threatening to unravel Danai by also revealing matters of the heart the rookie cop can no longer ignore.

Expect to be kept guessing and to be thrown off guard every step of the way. Think you know who the monster is and what’s bound to happen next? Think again. Following the bloody trail of a supernatural killer we realize nothing is as it seems. A fast-paced monster of a thriller, Silent Scream bites as hard as it barks and the mark it leaves may run deeper than you think.

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