By: Heather Gudenkauf
Publisher: Park Row
Publication Date: 5/30/2017
My Rating: 5 Stars +++
Top Books of 2017
New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf has been described as "masterful" and "intelligent" and compared to Lisa Scottoline and Jodi Picoult.
Introducing her most compelling heroine yet, she delivers a taut and emotional thriller that proves she's at the top of her class.
When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters—her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.
As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice?
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I am utterly speechless! A 5 Star ++++. Brilliantly crafted . . . LOVED. Just finished this incredible book. It may take some time to get my heart rate back to normal. My nails will never be the same.
Heather Gudenkauf returns following Missing Pieces landing on my Top 50 Books of 2016 with her "Best Yet," NOT A SOUND. Hands down, this is the "best book I have read in 2017!" I have no doubt by year end, it will still be the best of the year.
As the book opens we meet ER nurse Amelia Winn, specialized in domestic abuse. She has a patient, Stacey and she is leaving. Amelia walks with her to the car and another car is barreling at them, full speed ahead, which ends in tragedy. An unsolved hit-and-run. (hopefully another book here). . .
Flash forward two years later, Amelia has found herself deaf, jobless, and now separated from her doctor husband, David, her home and her seven-year-old step-daughter, Nora.
Life has not been easy. She is not able to continue her career as a nurse, and suffers from alcoholism, since the accident.
She has moved to a cabin in the woods and spends her time on the river, paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking, and running with her service dog, Stitch. She is trying to rebuild her life.
Amelia delivers all her commands in Czech to Stitch. His former trainer Vilem was originally from Prague and trained all of his police and rescue dogs using Czech commands, including Stitch and Jake’s K-9.
Jake a childhood friend (her brother Andrew's best friend), now Detective and her best friend. He too has experienced tragedy in his life with his wife’s suicide four years earlier off the Five Mines Bridge. He has helped pull her out of the gutter.
Just when Amelia thinks she is getting her life back on track with a job interview at the hospital (a file clerk), not what she was trained to do, but a step back in the direction, she stumbles upon a dead body in the river that same morning. The body turns out to be a fellow nurse, Gwen.
There are only three ways to get to this remote Five Mines River location: by boat, by four-wheeler, or by foot. She cannot believe Gwen Locke is dead and she cannot help but think of her own accident two years ago, which she is not convinced was an accident, after all. They met being sexual assault nurse examiners. Could it be a rapist or an abusive boyfriend for husband looking for revenge?
What if Gwen’s murder and her attempted murder are connected? She and Gwen both treated patients who were abused by very bad people. Would it be a stretch to think they would come after the nurses who were trying to gather forensic evidence to put them in jail for a very long time? Now she is a witness.
Turns out Amelia had pushed everyone away during the two years after the accident while she spiraled down with the devil (alcohol). In looking at some old emails, Gwen had tried to reach out to her. They had been good friends once before she got hit by a car. Before she lost her hearing and abandoned her family and friends for alcohol. They had daughters about the same age.
Presently, Amelia has not had a drink in eighteen months and determined more than ever to get her life back in order to spend time with Nora.
Amelia is one tough cookie (love her) . . . and she soon suspects there is more than meets the eye with the murder. Crazy things begin happening. There are tons of suspects. However, she keeps her suspicions to herself, after Jake tells her to let them handle the case.
She becomes obsessed with finding the killer and begins her own investigation (she is some detective –no slouch here). Her dog Stitch was a gift from her friend Jake and he is always at her side as her loyal companion. Being deaf really sets her back, working with her handicap--especially with a killer on a loose and she may be next.
Without her hearing, she has to rely on her vision to gauge the world around her.
Pretty soon, she begins suspecting things are not as they appear at work, plus she finds herself doing all sorts of illegal things to gather information. She is determined whoever murdered Gwen, is out to get her next. She will not look the other way.
She has two choices when she gets the urge to drink. The devil is calling her in the back of the cabinet (booze), or she can do what she does to make the urge pass. Go for a run. However, when it is dark, remote, and a killer on the loose, the two choices are not so great. She chooses the darkness and lurking danger outside, over the bottle.
It the meantime, the only person near her is her closest neighbor, Evan who owns the Five Mines Outfitters. She now is dealing with Peter, someone from Gwen's past. An obsessive-compulsive quasi-stalker (used bookstore owner) who lives in his parent’s house and spends his free time in a garage, pasting news articles about his murdered ex-girlfriend into a scrapbook.
She cannot seem to wrap her head around all that has happened. Gwen’s death, her mysterious email, missing records at the hospital, David’s newfound interest in her, not to mention Jake’s; the break-in at her house, the condition of David’s boat, Peter’s strange behavior and his cryptic statement making her suspect her ex-husband.
None of this adds up and she must do more digging. Is she missing something? Something very wrong is going on. Could her doctor ex-husband be involved in a murder? Complex.
Plus, someone is trying to discredit her by breaking into her house (using her past alcoholism), and setting her up. Someone is trying to cover their tracks, and she may be next on their list. The closer she gets to discovering the truth, she and Stitch find themselves in a complex dangerous web of deceit.
A huge fan of this talented author; have read all her books and enjoyed them immensely; however, this one is particularly powerful, explosive, intense, and emotional . . . and as the author mentions, her most personal; referencing "Amelia is one of her most complicated endearing characters to-date."
If you can only read one (moving and emotional) crime thriller this year— this would be the ONE. There is so much here on a number of different levels. Yes, you need to pre-order ASAP and count yourself fortunate if you land an early reading copy. (I am beyond grateful).
Readers, you will fall in love with Amelia and Stitch (side kick service dog). The most courageous (and intelligent), strong-willed, and witty duo I have ever met between the pages. The duo tackles a powerful sociopath on their own. A whodunit on steroids.
Well-written, to give you an idea: A mix of Jodi Picoult, Diane Chamberlain, Amy Hatvany, Lisa Scottoline, Lisa Unger, Lisa Gardner (another 2017 favorite), Jennifer Jaynes, and Michael and Daniel Palmer (medical thrillers), and of course the icing on the cake: Heather Gudenkauf's own signature trademark style. Top-Shelf.
Intricately plotted, fast-paced, memorable characters with realistic inner struggles; highly-charged subject matter, more twists than you can imagine . . . and the riveting taut suspense kept my heart beating non-stop (the scene by the riverbank in the snow) full blown, Tachycardia. This is what I call an "emotional thriller." I would not change one word.
As I mentioned in my comments while reading, I give first prize to Heather, for the "most catching" hook me, at first chapter ever. Jaw-dropping. It does not stop there. The same breakneck speed intensity continues to the explosive heart-pounding finale.
I can see why NOT A SOUND has received rave advance editorial praise. Believe every word. Impeccable research, from cancer, the medical profession, healthcare, whistleblowing, terminal illness, alcoholism, addiction, step-parenting, marriage, murder, domestic abuse, victims of violent crime, hearing impaired, service dogs, to so much more.
The setting, weather, and nature add to the mystery and intrigue. Reminded me of my days living in Big Canoe (North Georgia mountains) in my log cabin in the woods overlooking a lake; heavenly.
In addition, a huge medical thriller fan as well, and cancer is a topic close to my heart. An ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions. A cautionary tale, (more realistic than we know), without saying too much - a timely subject.
I for one, hope we see more of Amelia and Stitch in future books. They are too good to end. If you have not read this author, what are you waiting for? A book to re-read and have also pre-ordered the audiobook (narrated by Julia Whelan).
Heather Gudenkauf and Lisa Unger in Conversation
A very "special thank you" to Park Row Books and NetGalley for an early reading copy.
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Summer Reading Picks
"Heather Gudenkauf is one of my favorite new authors, and NOT A SOUND explains why. You won't be able to put down this breathless story of a young nurse, Amelia Winn, who has lost everything after a tragic accident – her nursing career, her husband, her stepdaughter, and even her hearing. You'll root for Amelia as she battles to reclaim her life and even fights to get justice for a friend of hers, a nurse who was brutally murdered. NOT A SOUND is not only a riveting thriller, but it's a moving portrait of a woman who is stronger than she ever believed possible, against all odds." -Lisa Scottoline, New York Times bestselling author
"[A] moving thriller... Gudenkauf maximizes tension all the way through the literally cliff-hanging finale." -Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Gudenkauf has created a memorable character in Amelia. Self-deprecating and sometimes angry, her candid voice is a breath of fresh air and an antidote to traditional thriller heroines. In addition, she is self-reliant and strong. The plot contains some clever twists, and the final showdown crackles with tension. It's hard not to root for Amelia and Stitch; flawed as they are, they're tough, engaging fighters. Come for the mystery; stay for the taut suspense, the unique heroine-and of course, the ugly, loyal dog." -Kirkus Reviews
"Twisting, atmospheric and dark, Heather Gudenkauf's NOT A SOUND will draw you right into the silent world of Amelia Winn and keep you riveted. This is a thrill ride to be sure, but it's also a gripping tale of tragedy and redemption. If you haven't read Heather Gudenkauf yet, now's the time." -Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of THE RED HUNTER
“Heather Gudenkauf has created a special thriller with a unique and brilliantly effective hook that I simply could not put down. NOT A SOUND gripped me and held me tight until the very last page — and I’m still shivering.”
–C.J. Box, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of VICIOUS CIRCLE
About the Author
Heather Gudenkauf is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden.
Heather was born in Wagner, South Dakota, the youngest of six children. At one month of age, her family returned to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota where her father was employed as a guidance counselor and her mother as a school nurse. At the age of three, her family moved to Iowa, where she grew up. Having been born with a profound unilateral hearing impairment (there were many evenings when Heather and her father made a trip to the bus barn to look around the school bus for her hearing aids that she often conveniently would forget on the seat beside her), Heather tended to use books as a retreat, would climb into the toy box that her father’s students from Rosebud made for the family with a pillow, blanket, and flashlight, close the lid, and escape the world around her. Heather became a voracious reader and the seed of becoming a writer was planted.
Heather Gudenkauf graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages and continues to work in education as a Title I Reading Coordinator.
Heather lives in Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Lolo. In her free time Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, and running. She is currently working on her next novel. Read More
Heather Gudenkauf and Lisa Unger, in Conversation
February 23, 2017 by Lisa Unger
Kung Fu, Home Renovation, and Nice Places with Dark Secrets
Praised as masterful, intelligent, and terrifyingly real, Heather Gudenkauf’s novels have won awards, raced to the top of bestseller lists, and kept plenty of readers up past their bedtimes – me included. Read More