John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke and she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again.
With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood.
For in a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover. For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence.
Shocking, chilling and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets.
‘Beautiful, lyrical prose takes the reader through a perfectly constructed, often harrowing tale’ Denzil Meyrick
‘Engrossing, hard-hitting – even shocking – with a light poetic frosting. Another superb read!’ Douglas Skelton
‘A chilling tale of secrets, lies and the ultimate betrayal’ Theresa Talbot
‘Emotional. Brave. Dark. Raw. Utterly beautiful’ Louise Beech
I would like to thank the author, publisher and the blog tour organiser for the ARC of this novel in return for an honest review.
It is an unsurmountable fact, that I have come to expect extraordinary things from Orenda authors. Original and challenging storylines, clever and intelligent writing.
So with each of their books that I read, I get a little nervous! Will it live up to all of this?
Well Mr Malone you have, In The Absence of Miracles, is a touching and haunting tale of a family riven by disturbing secrets. It deals with the deeply disturbing effect abuse has on it’s victims, yet it does so with sensitivity and with an honesty that refuses to let the silence win.
The writer takes a challenging storyline and delivers it with extraordinary skill. In my very humble opinion, it is one of the finest examples of domestic noir to grace any bookshelf.
The story centres around John Doherty who when clearing out his mother’s home ready for sale finds a shoe, setting off a terrifying journey to find a brother he could not remember. What makes this such an emotive and compulsive read, is the way the writer takes us on a exploration of the minds staggering ability to hide memories behind a barricade. Once breached it leaves John facing emotional and physical collapse. Ultimately it leads us and him to a new reality, that will either free him or consume him.
Beyond this theme of abuse, the writer delivers a top notch domestic noir, because he roots the story in layers and layers of mystery. Like the mirror and smoke effect, he reveals tantalising clues to the story behind the brothers disappearance. But then its like the smoke descends and your forced to wait, excruciatingly painful as that is, until he once again allows you to glimpse into the mirror and a view into the past. He gives us characters who have composed a life based on lies. As in life the unravelling of these lies has casualties, but the writer leaves you in no doubt, that though evil can lie behind any door, in any street, there is always a chance that the walls they build around them, can crash down as fast as they were built.
It was not an easy read, subject matters such as this never are. Michael Malone writes with such respect, while still delivering a hard hitting drama, that reading it remains a privilege. It will stay with me for a long time and for all the right reasons. It is a devastating exploration of abuse, yet still an exciting story of discovery, secrets and lies.
About the author
Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings.Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritanand Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spinesand After He Died soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.
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