I wanted to write a crime novel with complicated and compromised characters and push boundaries of what a reader might think good and bad people are. My new book, The Silent Ones, has characters who, when tested, turn out to be very different people from what they imagined they were.

Darren Evans is 21 years old, fresh out of art school and back living with his parents in south London. It was such fun to create Darren as an intuitive, chaotic, dreamy and directionless man in every area of his life except when it comes to his family, which was ripped apart by the disappearance of his older sister when Darren was a child. In his urge to find the truth about what happened to his sister Darren breaks the law and get a job as a cleaner in a psychiatric hospital.

Here he hopes he can come into contact with Olivia Duvall, the middle-aged woman convicted of and imprisoned for killing his sister. Olivia is cold, calculating, egotistical, unapologetic and bored. She revels in withholding the truth about the five girls she killed. But even she, a woman who has rejected every social convention, is more complicated than she first appears. The opportunity to pit Olivia’s brand of middle-aged cynicism against Darren’s youthful idealism got me hurrying to my laptop in the mornings.

The battle of wills between Darren and Olivia allowed me to explore other issues that make for compelling crime fiction: How violence affects a family, how bumpy, long and compromised is the road to recovery and forgiveness. Should we as victims forgive, and can we?

The Silent Ones by Ali Knight, hardback, (Hodder), June 18th 2015

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