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the silence between breaths

The Silence Between Breaths

The Manchester Picadilly to London Euston train sets off on its way, filled with people heading into the big smoke for work, a desperately needed job interview, a getaway, a wedding, everyday stuff. Normal people hopping on a normal train, which runs the same route, on the same trusted tracks, every single morning. However, today is different. Today there is a man and his name is Saheel. He is young, sweating, nervous, and clutching a rucksack. What’s inside will destroy the lives of those onboard.

So, what did I think?

This book is unusual to me, in a good way. Most books build up to the pinnacle, the moment of horror, tragedy, love, or heartbreak, in the last few pages. But Cath Staincliffe  delivers the ‘thing‘ that happens, screaming from the middle of the book. The ‘thing‘ is detailed and horrifying but the main focus, and what I took from the book, was that of the lives of these everyday people. What their lives and troubles were before, and how one day, a single card dealt by fate, can change and turn it all upside down. How do you wake up tomorrow? How do you put one foot in front of the other? Can you ever go back to being that mundane person on the train, and would you want to?

The Silence Between Breaths isn’t a run of the mill thriller, it’s more than that. I can imagine it as a sharply written, suspenseful BBC drama, no surprise when you look at Staincliffe’s past work as the creator of ITV’s Blue Murder. I can picture exactly the actors who would play each of these characters screening on BBC1 (or should I say ITV!) in a 3 or 4 part drama. It’s a classy book containing detailed, relatable characters who have  their fictional lives laid out on the pages by Staincliffe carefully with respect and empathy.

Be warned this one will stay with you for a little bit.Just don’t read it on the commute home….

3.5 stars from me.  Click Booktopia and buy now in time for Christmas! 

The Book Jacket

Passengers boarding the 10.35 train from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston are bound for work, assignations, reunions, holidays or new starts, with no idea that their journey is about to be brutally curtailed.

Holly has just landed her dream job, which should make life a lot easier than it has been, and Jeff is heading for his first ever work interview after months of unemployment. They end up sitting next to each other. Onboard customer service assistant Naz dreams of better things as he collects rubbish from the passengers. And among the others travelling are Nick with his young family who are driving him crazy; pensioner Meg and her partner setting off on a walking holiday and facing an uncertain future; Caroline, run ragged by the competing demands of her stroppy teenage children and her demented mother; and Rhona, unhappy at work and desperate to get home to her small daughter. And in the middle of the carriage sits Saheel, carrying a deadly rucksack…

About Cath Staincliffe

Cath Staincliffe is an award winning novelist, radio playwright and creator of ITV’s hit series Blue Murder. Cath’s books have been shortlisted for the CWA Best First Novel award. She was joint winner of the CWA Short Story Dagger in 2012. Letters To My Daughter’s Killer was selected for the Specsavers Crime Thriller Book Club on ITV3 in 2014. Cath also writes the Scott & Bailey books based on the popular ITV series. She lives with her family in Manchester.