The Price of Silence
At the courthouse, flanked by my husband and son, I walk the gauntlet of reporters pressing for personal details they will turn into something vile, unrecognizable.
“What happened in the past has no bearing on this case,” I stop to tell them, this first day of my trial for murder. “There is no link, no inevitability.”
Our lives are like anyone else’s, I have to believe. A simple gathering of facts, of sad little coincidences, with no discernable pattern. Random twists of direction is all anyone can expect, twists that can turn into tragedy and overwhelm you, against which we have tried to defend ourselves by burying them in the basement of our souls, by building a wall of silence to lean on.
Tom wraps his arms around our son Josh and me as the cameras pelt us with flashes. We are a picture of togetherness, a family finally united.
“My wife is innocent,” Tom says.
I stopped being innocent a long time ago.
Read All Day Blog – Nina Sankovitch
A Notable Book Sense Pick for June
The Richmond Times-Dispatch
The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
It’s a concept foreign to Emma Perotti and her family, and it leads to Emma’s being charged with murder in Camilla Trinchieri’s finely wrought novel of secrets and
Each member of this troubled New York City family is burdened with guilt, and each chooses to bury the truth or ignore it. An-ling has her secrets, too.
Told through each of the four voices, “The Price of Silence” is a chilling and memorable hearts in turmoil, rendered with grace and intensity by an author who understands secrets and the devastation they can wreak.
Few betray as completely and as cruelly as family, a conclusion Trinchieri reveals with laser-like precision in this psychological thriller told from a variety of points of view. When An-Ling Huang appears briefly in an ESL class taught by Emma Perotti, it seems to be a chance meeting — but over time, the two encounter each other enough to establish a rapport that begins as friendship, mutates into a quasi-mother-daughter relationship and hints at something darker. Is An-Ling in search of a new family, or is she out to destroy Emma’s fragile bonds with her husband and teenage
The answers are elusive even when An-Ling is found murdered and Emma is brought to trial, and even courtroom dynamics may bring only certain secrets to the forefront. Trinchieri, author of seven mystery novels under two separate pseudonyms, shrewdly mixes up forward-moving court scenes with flashbacks showing how seemingly simple decisions go terribly awry.
Mystery Scene Review
This is a gripping, tension-filled novel about the consequences of loss, particularly loss that occurs within a family. Not an easy read, but skillfully written and moving, a novel that will stay with you whether you want it to or not.
The Price of Silence is a beautifully crafted story about a family damaged by … Richly written with complex and believable human drama and tragedy it’s a compelling story that twists towards its ending without giving up the killer to the bitter end.
I Love a Mystery
John A Broussard
One feature which makes THE PRICE OF SILENCE especially remarkable is that the scene and details of the homicide are played out in snatches at Emma’s trial for An-ling’s murder. And these glimpses into the courtroom are interspersed with the first person flashbacks of wife, husband and son, along with the posthumous delivery of An-ling’s emails which figure in the trial. Trinchieri does a truly remarkable job of giving each of the characters voices which reveal their own, very believable,personalities. While An-ling emerges as a congenital and all-too believable liar, the family’s lies are very different. Theirs are deceptions shrouded in a silence that continues on to the very last pages of the novel.
Anyone interested in a story that places heavy emphasis on the complexity of human personality will find this to be an engrossing and fascinating tale. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Crime Spree Magazine
This beautifully written novel begins with Emma Perotti, an ESL professor on trial for killing An-Ling Huang, a young Chinese artist, who she took under her wing.
Trinchieri tells the gripping story through e-mails, trial documentation,and testimonies of the accused and her family. The title says it all as secrets are revealed with every turn of the page and even the reader is mislead by the characters’ lies. We know from the beginning that Emma and her husband had a daughter that died as a toddler, but we don’t find out until chapters later the details surrounding her death. We know that Huang is damaged, haunted by her past, but we continue to find out why until the very last page. The suspense lies not in the “whodunit”, not in the supposed murder, but in who these people are and how they got to the dark place they’re in now.
Trinchieri demonstrates her skills as a novelist, using deft multiple viewpoints and timelines to build her characters and their stories. Perotti discusses her relationship with Huang, recounts times spent and conversations had, but the shift to her son and husband’s point of view indicates that she’s not the most reliable narrator, often skewing her true motives and past events. The characters keep secrets, hiding the truth from the reader, leaving us wondering who, if anyone, we can trust. An intriguing and compelling story, PRICE OF SILENCE, is one of the best novels I have read this year.
A taut psychological thriller. …the novel is a gripping, intelligent read. Particularly compelling are its subtle insights into the nature of family, foreignness and the lies we tell ourselves and others even when our intentions are good.
This is the book for readers wanting to be kept on the edge of their seats. … A fast, intense read…
…a potent psychological thriller about love, longing and loss.
Mystery Lovers Bookshop
Mary Alice Gorman
The Price of Silence is a riveting summer read for the top of your list. In a tightly plotted and spare style that will remind you of Chinese Brush Paintings, she brings you the death of a young Chinese artist and the trial ofa woman accused of her murder. It is in the telling that the artistry shines. A must.
… [it’s] as much in figuring out motivations as it is in discovering who-done-it. It reminds me a bit of Hidden by Paul Jaskunas or Revenge by Mary Morris with a bit of Amy Tan’s A Hundred Secret Senses thrown in. You won’t put it down.
[A Bookin’ It Staff Pick book.]
Kirkus Starred Review
Prolific as Trella Crespi and Camilla T. Crespi, Trinchieri here debuts most auspiciously as herself.
Trinchieri¹s dark, suspenseful tale is a riveting piece of fiction that gathers momentum with every page. The mystery never abates, so readers will be guessing until the final chapter… Four stars.
This week I was intending to read a mystery called Because of the Cats by Nicolas Freeling (a Felony & Mayhem mystery), that is, until a friend of mine invited me to meet him at Partner’s & Crime Mystery Booksellers in Greenwich Village for a W-WOW! Radio play.
The play was held in a tiny stage room behind an out of-the-way door at the back of Partner’s & Crime. It was my first visit to the store, so after the play I took in the books, of course. During my self-introduction to the ways and means of crime that pays, I discovered an autographed copy of Camilla Trinchieri’s The Price of Silence.
I suppose it was a couple of contributing pieces to the storyline that immediately grabbed my attention—the story is set in New York City; its protagonist teaches ESL to English language learners from China. Hmm… I live in NYC and I’m currently volunteering as an English conversation partner to a few Chinese English language learners in Manhattan. How could I say no to Trinchieri’s book? Needless to say,Because of the Cats was promptly shelved in my personal library for later readerly
From Three Lanterns: A Journal
When scarred mother, wife and teacher Emma Perotti meets a young, intriguing Chinese painter in her ESL classroom, the wall she built to shelter her self-willed despair after the tragic death of her infant daughter begins to crumble.
Unbeknownst to the two women, An-ling Huang’s presence in Emma’s life begins to (silently) act as a fleshy sledgehammer knocking at Emma’s self-protective wall, behind which Emma’s desire to nurture and love another person is hidden. As Emma becomes closer to An-ling Huang, long withheld tendencies toward expressing affection are liberated. Emma’s husband responds to her opening up with resentfulness. He becomes increasingly generous with expressing his native distrust and dislike of the young Chinese immigrant who has captured his wife’s attention. Their son Josh notices the change An-ling has brought to his mother; he wants to know more about her. But before things get too deep, An-ling winds up dead in her apartment and Emma is charged with her murder.
All great mysteries require a dead body. “I’ve gotta have a dead body,” one of my friends tells me as she describes the types of books she likes to read. Well, The Price of Silence has got the dead body. It’s a mystery sure enough. But for me, the most fascinating part of any novel is always character. I’m less inclined to devour a book for its plot. It’s character for which I’m hungry. Trinchieri’s Price of Silence then came as a surprise—a literary crime novel. I was expecting more plot, less character and was truly rewarded by an imbalance in favor of character. So for all you page-turning plot lovers, I will tell you, you won’t be dying to get to the end of this novel to know, who did it! Yes, you’ll want to know that part, but that desire will not so much drive your reading as simply take a backseat to your desire to get to know this handful of characters and what drives them.
For me, I found Emma’s “price of silence” too great. Her self-instructed penance is a penance of worthy basis (for the death of her infant daughter), yet of unsound real-life application as to its consequences to others, particularly her son. She loves him from a distance, in the safety of silence.
Emma’s conflict with her birth-determined Catholicism walks a taut line of disbelief, guilt and desire to believe. Desiring the comfort derived from a God-as-friend relationship present in her grandmother, Emma says on page 126:
The next morning I took the train to Grand Central Station and walked the eleven blocks to the best of God’s New York mansions—St. Patrick’s Cathedral, my grandmother’s favorite. I knelt in the front pew and listened to the silence, waited for the comfort of belief to envelop me like the blanket Nonna used to fold over me when we went to sleep at night.
And desiring a belief in God as witnessed in her grandmother, Emma continues on page 127:
It was the serene, stilled expression on Nonna’s face as she prayed that mesmerized me, that made me want to believe as she did. […] She led me to believe that my submission to God would bring not happiness, because that was not our lot in life, but a sense of security, a feeling of being loved back
Coming to a realization of the true price of her penance (of silence—love at a silent distance), Emma says on page 130:
Guilt had made me so self-absorbed I never stopped to think what I was doing to my son, how I was depriving him of what was his right.
When I read this sentence I immediately thought of a fictional Rebbe and son relationship in which a “price of silence” was paid. In Chaim Potok’s The Chosen, I have always wondered about the Rebbe’s perspective—his heart’s perspective, not his disciplined self’s exterior projection, on raising his eldest son in silence. I read this book when I was twelve and was deeply affected, as much as my twelve-year-old self could be, by the theme of silence. It was later, in the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr., that I discovered a meaningful description of the “price of silence”:
We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
Trinchieri’s Price of Silence is a literary crime novel that will not let you down. I realize some people are turned off by the term “literary.” In this case, I urge those turned off by the term to keep in mind that this term simply refers a novel’s original and interesting use of language. “Literary” also refers to the novel’s mirroring of the human condition through vivid explorations of characters’ minds. If the term is used for snobbish effect in the real world, I believe the term itself has been misused.
Trinchieri’s book is certainly character-driven, yet the plotting competes with any regular plot-driven genre novel. It’s a must read.