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The Silence of Murder Hardcover – October 11, 2011
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100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime
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About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The first time Jeremy heard God sing, we were in the old Ford, rocking back and forth with the wind. Snow pounded at the window to get inside, where it wasn’t much better than out there. I guess he was nine. I was seven, but I’ve always felt like the older sister, even though Jeremy was bigger.
I snuggled closer under his arm while we waited for Rita. She made us call her ‘Rita’ and not ‘Mom’ or ‘Mommy’ or ‘Mother,’ and that was fine with Jeremy and me. Pretty much anything that was fine with Jeremy was fine with me.
We’d been in the backseat long enough for frost to make a curtain on the car windshield and for Rita’s half-drunk paper cup of coffee to ice some in its holder up front.
Jeremy had grown so still that I thought he might be asleep, or half frozen, either one being better than the teeth-chattering bone-chilling I had going on.
Then came the sound.
It filled the car. A single note that made it feel like all of the notes put together in just the right way. I don’t remember wondering where that note came from because my whole head was full of it and the hope that it wouldn’t stop, not ever. And it went on so long I thought maybe I was getting my wish and that this was what people heard when they died, right before seeing that white tunnel light.
The note didn’t so much end as it went into another note and then more of them. And there were words in the notes, but they were swallowed up in the meaning of that music-song so that I couldn’t tell and didn’t care which was which.
Then I saw this song was coming from my brother, and I started bawling like a baby. And bawling wasn’t something you did in our house because Rita couldn’t abide crying and believed whacking you was the way to make it stop.
Jeremy sang what must have been a whole entire song, because when he closed his mouth, it seemed right that the song was over.
When I could get words out, I turned so I could see my brother. “Jeremy,” I whispered, “I never heard you sing before.”
He smiled like someone had warmed him toasty all the way through and given him hot chocolate with marshmallows to top it off. “I never sang before.”
“But that song? Where did you get it?”
“God,” he answered, as simply as if he’d said, “Walmart.”
I’d just heard that song, and even though it seemed to me that God made more sense than Walmart for an answer, I felt like I had to say otherwise. I was the “normal” sister, the one whose needs weren’t officially special.
“Jeremy, God can’t give you a song,” I told him.
Jeremy raised his eyebrows a little and swayed the way he does. “Hope,” he said, like he was older than Rita and I was just a little kid, “God didn’t give it to me. He sang it. I just copied.”
The door to the trailer flew open, and a man named Billy stepped out. Rita was breaking up with Billy, but I don’t think he knew that. We’d stopped by his trailer on our way out of town so Rita could pick up her stuff, and maybe get some money off her ex-boyfriend, who didn’t realize he was an ex. Billy stood there in plaid boxers, his belly hanging over the elastic like a rotten potato somebody’d tried to put a rubber band around. If I hadn’t been so cold, I might have tried to get Jeremy to laugh.
Rita squeezed up beside the potato man. She tried to slip past him and out the door. But he took hold of her bag and grabbed one more kiss. She laughed, like this was a big game. Then she stepped down out of the trailer, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.
I would have given everything I had, which I admit wasn’t so very much, just to hear Jeremy and God’s song again.
The tall heels of Rita’s red knee-high patent-leather boots crunched the snow as she stepped to the car, arms out to her sides, like a tightrope walker trying to stay on the wire. She jerked open the driver’s door, slid into place, and slammed the door hard enough to shake the car worse than the wind.
Without saying a word, she turned the key and pumped the pedal until the Ford caught. Then she stoked up the defrost and waited for the wipers to do their thing. I figured by the scowl on Rita’s face that Billy hadn’t forked over the “loan” she’d hoped for.
Jeremy leaned forward, his knobby fingers on the back of the seat. “Rita,” he said, “I didn’t know God could sing.”
She struck like a rattler, but without the warning. The slap echoed off Jeremy’s face, louder than the roar of the engine. “God don’t sing!” she screamed.
That was the last time Jeremy ever spoke out loud.
Sometimes I think if I could have moved quicker, put myself in between my brother’s soft cheek and Rita’s hard hand, the whole world might have spun out different.
“Your Honor, I object!”
The prosecutor stands up so fast his chair screeches on the courtroom floor. He has on a silvery suit with a blue tie. If he weren’t trying to kill my brother, I’d probably think he’s handsome in a dull, paper-doll-cutout kind of way. Brown hair that doesn’t move, even when he bangs the state’s table. Brown eyes that make me think of bullets. I’m guessing that he’s not even ten years older than Jeremy, the one sitting behind the defense table, the one on trial for murdering Coach Johnson with a baseball bat, the one this prosecutor would like to execute before he reaches the age of nineteen.
The prosecutor charges the witness box as if he’s coming to get me. His squinty bullet eyes make me scoot back in the chair. “The witness’s regrets about what she may or may not have done a decade ago are immaterial and irrelevant!” he shouts.
“Sit down, Mr. Keller,” the judge says, like she’s tired of saying it because she’s already said it a thousand times this week.
Maybe she has. This is my first day in her courtroom. Since I’m a witness in my brother’s trial, they wouldn’t let me attend until after I testified. So I can’t say the whole truth and nothing but the truth about what’s gone on in this courtroom without me.
“I’ll allow it,” the judge says. “Go ahead, Miss Long.”
More About the Author
Since then, Dandi Daley Mackall has become an award-winning author of over 400 books for children of all ages, with sales of 4 million copies in 22 countries. THE SILENCE OF MURDER is the winner of the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery 2012. Recent picture books with Sleeping Bear Press include Legend of Ohio, Rudy Rides the Rails: A Depression Era Story (Notable Book 2008 - Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People National Council of Social Studies & Children's Book Council; winner of the Angel Award, 2008; Winner of the "Award of Excellence" from Chicago Book Show 2007) and 2008 release, A Girl Named Dan (her own "batboy" story, and a lesson on Title IX), 2 Mom's Choice Awards & Amelia Bloom Award. Eva Underground, Harcourt young adult novel, nominated ALA Best Book 2007, starred Kirkus review, awarded a Top Teen Read by New York Public Library, finalist for Ohioana Award, was based on the author's experiences behind the Iron Curtain. Love Rules was awarded Romantic Times' Top Pick. Middle-grade fiction, Larger-than-Life Lara, Dutton/Penguin, which teaches how to write, while tackling the problem of bullying, is on the KY Bluegrass Award List 2007-8; William Allan White Award list, 2008-9; KS and KY Children's Choice lists. Her Winnie the Horse Gentler series has sold over half a million books and Starlight Animal Rescue is a Gold Medallion finalist. Dandi received the 2009 Helen Keating Ott Award for distinguished contribution toward promoting high moral and ethical values in children and young adult literature. She also received the Distinguished Alumna Award in 2008 from the University of Missouri. Dandi is a national speaker, keynoting at conferences and Young Author events, and has made dozens of appearances on TV, including ABC, NBC, and CBS. Visit Dandi at www.dandibooks.com, winniethehorsegentler.com, and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85oaIUbJ8j8
Top Customer Reviews
The bulk of the book involves her efforts to figure out who really did kill Coach Johnson. She's not as alone as she first thought. Her brother's defense attorney is a very decent man who is willing to keep an open mind when Hope starts shaking loose some facts that might alter the outcome of the trial. Her long time friend T.J. (who would like to be a lot more than a friend, but Hope is clueless about that), is willing to help her even though he's creeped out by some of the places she needs to investigate. Enter Chase, son of the sheriff. He's a pitcher like T.J., but has a history of getting into minor scrapes back in Boston where he lives with his mother most of the year.Read more ›
Coach Johnson is dead, and sixteen-year-old Hope Long is the only person who believes that her eighteen-year-old brother, Jeremy, is innocent. Sure, Jeremy is a little different--he's always been that way--but he's no killer. But there are no other suspects, so Hope sets out to find some and prove that Jeremy didn't kill Coach.
I'm totally impressed! This was a wonderfully creative mystery novel. The writing was excellent, and the characters were even better. I was completely sucked in and didn't see the end coming. I'm so glad I bought this book! This is the first I've read of MacKall's books, but I'm going to keep an eye peeled for whatever she writes in the future. If you like John Grisham, you'd like this book. With the wrongly accused and the search to find the truth, this book was one I couldn't put down. Highly recommended.
The Silence of Murder was a fantastic read. Through-out the story you were always changing your mind about "Who Did It".
Great for age 11+. I am an adult and loved the book. I adored the main character Hope (who often felt "Hopeless"). She was so strong and courageous!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good, captivating read...keep my interest until the end! I had trouble putting it down until I finished the whole book.Published 4 months ago by Karin Swisher
It was a very interesting story which I was not very into because I had to read it for my summer reading at school. But around the third chapter I really got pulled into it. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Jake Walsh
The end was a plot twist I did not expect it at all. I really loved this book and I hope everyone gets a chance to read it.Published 8 months ago by fun game
I couldn't break away from it! Such a sweet depiction of the love between siblings amidst extreme dysfunction in their family. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Darla Reinwald
Couldn't put it down there is never a good stopping point keeps you on edge all the time. Read it in less than a week is quite an accomplish as slow as I read.Published 16 months ago by EDWARD P SEGAR
Great price for required summer reading for my middle schooler.Published 18 months ago by Frank Dixon