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The Price of Silence Hardcover – September 1, 1984
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The detective of this book is "Uncle George," so called by his nephew to everyone who will listen, and a few who won't, a close relationship that comes strongly into play at the climax of the tightly structured and clearly laid out plot. George was once a prosecutor in a New England town, until a man he sent to prison, and was later executed, was proven innocent, after which George vanished for ten years while he wrestled with his conscience. Upon his return, George is a man more after the writer's heart, against the death penalty, very committed to community social issues, and non-judgmental toward people who bend society's mores to survive; what does not change, however, is his pursuit of justice, a trait that often causes him to become embroiled in some mystery or another. In the detectiverse, George has more in common with a country constable or a small-town editor than he does a crafty lawyer like Perry Mason or a deductive genius like Nero Wolfe; the sense that he most often calls upon when seeking out the guilty is common sense.
From the beginning of the book, when a man known for seeming to swallow flaming swords is found shot and then gutted, to the end, when three friends plunge into a moral abyss to hide their indiscretions and crimes, the plot follows a simple and uncomplicated path, but not an obvious one. The narrative is written in a direct and uncomplicated fashion, which does not allow for any distractions from either the search for the truth or the indictment of the guilty. For all its social conscious, the book is remarkably free from polemics or ideology; the events are what they are, and lead to where they go. It's a good story for people who like mysteries that have heart and conscience, unencumbered by meandering plots or cluttered narrative.