When Patrick Dielman shows up at Detective Jo Larsen’s desk insisting that his wife, Jenny, is missing, Jo wonders if it’s a case of a bored housewife running away.
But as she digs deeper into Jenny’s life, Jo learns that Dielman keeps a stranglehold on the family finances, down to the last nickel, and that Jenny’s first marriage dissolved following the death of her young son. By all accounts—including her doctor’s—she never recovered from the loss. Between a controlling husband, a tragic past, and a callous ex-husband, Jo can’t be sure if she should suspect foul play or accept that the woman may have wanted to disappear.
For Jo, whose own demons are shadowing her every step, finding Jenny becomes more than the typical protect-and-serve.
Q & A with Susan McBride
1. What was the inspiration behind Walk into Silence, a suspenseful, investigative thriller?
I was reading FBI files of unsolved cases online many years ago, and I stumbled upon one that stuck with me: a woman who had disappeared and been found in a quarry. I don’t remember too much more about the case than that, but it was all I needed. I started thinking about this woman, who she was, what her background was, and what might have happened that caused her to meet such a tragic end. This woman became Jenny Dielman in Walk Into Silence.
2. You write both women’s fiction and award-winning mystery novels, and have also penned several series. Do you prefer series or stand alone novels? Which genre do you prefer to write and why?
I started out writing mysteries, and I’ve always loved them. As a kid, I was a huge Nancy Drew fan (and still have my collection with the yellow spines that I plan to give my daughter someday!). In college, I got caught up in Sue Grafton’s series with Kinsey Milhone. So it felt really natural to craft mysteries. Doing a series is very comfortable, as you really get to know the characters. You watch them grow and change, and they feel a bit like family. On the other hand, writing stand-alones is a lot of fun, too, and a great challenge. With my women’s fiction, I had stories to tell that I could complete within 400 pages. I knew how they started and how they would end, and I didn’t really see them moving beyond that. Once I told those tales, I felt complete, like I had happily waved “goodbye” to those people and didn’t need to revisit them. Honestly, I just like to write. My husband calls me “Crazy Brain,” as my imagination just won’t quit (and it freaks him out a little!). If I had to pick a favorite genre, it would probably be mystery. Even the women’s fiction books all have mysteries running through them!
3. Jo has many skeletons in her closet which sometimes get the best of her and become her greatest weakness. Why did you choose to have a flawed character? What do you think is Jo’s greatest strength?
I don’t believe there’s a human being on earth who isn’t flawed. So I can’t fathom writing a character—particularly a main character—who hasn’t been damaged, or at least dinged, in some way. Jo’s experiences have made her the person she is, and I see her as stronger because of them. She understands and empathizes with victims in a way that others cannot. She fights for them wholeheartedly because no one fought for her, so she’s determined not to let them down. She’s often called “dogged,” and that is definitely one of her strengths. Jo is a seeker of truth. She wants to believe in justice. If she’s on your side, you’re damned lucky. If she’s against you, you’re screwed.