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Hush Mass Market Paperback – March 15, 1999

4.3 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Hush opens with the gruesome murder of 7-year-old Davy Boyce's mother by his stepfather, Chet. Chet kills the woman with a straight razor after she confronts him about his abusive behavior towards Davy. We soon find that Chet has married Davy's mother only to be close to Davy, who he molests throughout the book. Once she's dead, Chet packs up the trailer and takes Davy to the remote, Oregon lumber town of Bentman. That's when Hush really takes off.

Chet's plan to have Davy all to himself is quickly derailed when Davy becomes both an elective mute and a biter. He is taken out of school and placed in the Bentman Children's Center where he meets 38-year-old Celia Griswold, the art therapist assigned to his case. Celia has her own problems. Her cheating husband, childless marriage, and uncooperative boss drive her to develop a bond with Davy, and the boy's sinister artwork leads her to suspect Chet of the crimes he's committed. Chet does not plan to give up "his boy," and launches an assault on Celia to ensure that he doesn't have to.

Edgar- and Emmy-award-winning journalist Mark Nykanen has written a debut thriller that is sure to chill even the most weathered mystery fan. Davy, Chet, and Celia hold the story together as both fascinating and believable characters. There are moments in the story that are difficult to believe, but despite its few weak spots, Hush is almost impossible to put down. --Mara Friedman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A murderous child abuser takes aim at the woman who threatens to expose him in a debut thriller that is long on psychological complexity but short on action. At 38, Oregon art therapist Celia Griswold is having a rough time. At home, the dissolution of her marriage to a halfhearted philanderer is jeopardizing her chances to have a child; at work, while the Bentman Children Center's stiff new director upsets her most reassuring routines, she finds herself falling for a wacky, married colleague. Celia's troubles boil over, and her patience and skill with children are tested, when she begins to work with seven-year-old Davy Boyce. Davy has stopped speaking and started biting?and he's producing mysterious and disturbing artwork that hints at a terrifying crime. Emmy- and Edgar-winning journalist Nykanen uncovers his characters' psyches with wit, complexity and originality. Unfortunately, the plot is creaky, relying on implausible recklessness from the villain and generic scenes of suspense. Nevertheless, Nykanen's attractively unpredictable characters will keep a stubborn hold on readers' attention.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks (March 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312968523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312968526
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,900,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Schtinky VINE VOICE on March 13, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was turned onto Mark Nykanen by a fellow reader, and boy am I grateful to him. `Hush' is a tale of child abuse that is comparable to Lorenzo Carcaterra's `Sleepers' or Luanne Rice's `Stone Heart'. Unlike other reviewers, I didn't find the sex overdone at all, in the case of the child it was simply hinted at in real life, but painted that dark shade of horrid from the mind of the abuser. Atypically well done for this type of no-no subject.

No monster or vampire or ghastly apparition can ever be more horrifying than an abuser of children, a sick control freak who preys on the innocent to feed himself. This is horror in its truest form, the everyday form of humanity.

Young Davy Boyce watches his stepfather Chet kill his mother, a pattern Chet has established before in order to gain control over young male children. But unlike Chet's other victims, Davy stops talking and begins to display very disturbed behavior, such as biting. After an incident in Davy's class in where he bites both a fellow student and the teacher, Davy is sent to a special school in the hopes that artistic psychotherapy can help him.

Celia Griswold works at the Bentman Children's Center in rural Oregon where Davy is sent to, and uses drawing and art to try and pull Davy out of his silence. Celia has her own problems with a wandering husband, her own desire to have children, a wandering sheep herder that has moved his flock near their land, and a new boss who doesn't understand the therapy she excels in. Davy's artwork points to something very wrong with Davy's homelife, but Celia's extremely clinical boss refuses to recognize Celia's suspicions.

Chet, in the meantime, has his own agenda for Davy.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Hush" was a book I grabbed off the bargain pyramid, and as such, I wasn't expecting a whole lot from it: just a thriller to keep me going when I was moving house and had nothing hooked up or working right yet. On that level, the book succeeded wonderfully: the tension is high, the villain stalks the heroine and a child mercilessly, and you twitch and jump and get skittish.
The basic premise is this: A sociopathic pedophile has killed a childs mother and taken the child in order to prey on him better. The child withdraws, becoming a voluntary mute, and a biter. A woman who is an "Art Therapist" (a psychologist who uses the artwork of children to 'decode' their stress/troubles) then gets the boy's case, and ensuing thriller begins.
The heroine, Celia, is very well crafted, with depth and a personality that lines nicely with her career. Moreover, she's not perfect - her marriage is on the rocks, she has doubts sometimes in her conclusions, and her job is unstable since the head of the hospital thinks what she does is a fraud and has no real psychological validity. Likewise, Davy, the child, has a very rich character - he is surviving a level of awful abuse (and sometimes even the hints of what is happening to him are very painful to read), and his mind is as complex as it would be given the condition.
It's the villain where the complexity dies a little. The pedophile character is cardboard and 1-dimensional, and you only get a random hint or two as to his background, motivation, or the like. In most thrillers I've read, you get a detailed past from the villain, as he or she tries to validate what they're doing (an impossible task, but a quirk of most major sociopaths or the like).
Still, on the basis of making you jump and being a solid thriller, this is a good read: you'll twitch and gasp and hold the book white-knuckled. Just don't expect literary depth from anyone in the book except the heroine and the child.
'Nathan
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book when it first came out, loved (if that's the right word for a book about child abuse) it then, and just happened to see it advertised again - and bought it.

This book had a big impact on me when I read it the first time. And it didn't have less of an impact on me this time around. Davy Boyce and the horrors he suffered have always stuck with me. I know this book is fiction but it could so easily be based on true life experiences.

I thought the art therapy angle was very clever, along with other pieces such as Davy being an elective mute and also a biter.

The book is graphic - violence, child abuse, rape - so I consider this to be an Adults Only book. And not all adults are able to read this type of book.

It was Nykanen's first book so not everything is perfect about it but it was compelling enough for me to remember his name after 13 years and read this again. And I am ordering some of his others books, too, to see if they affect me as strongly.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I work with abused children and this book captures their anguish and coping skills. Chet is a sexual preditor with a murderous twist. Davy is a delightful child who is doing what he has to for survival. Celia, Davy's art therapist, is the only person to come close to understanding Davy's plight but Celia has problems of her own. Davy is literally going to die if Celia does not hear his mute cries for help. Celia is literally going to die if no one will listen to her voice as she advocates for both Davy and herself.

Chet is fearsome in his ability as a sexual predator. Davy is empathetic in trying to cope with his life. This is all accomplished in a fast-paced book.

Mr. Nykanen writes a well-crafted story that is the unfortunate story of too many children.
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