In the beginning…

Tuesday 13 February, 2018

In the beginning…

Anna Scavolini hasn’t set foot in Glasgow for ten years — and she’s not short of reasons…

On her first night back in town, what should have been the start of a relaxing Christmas getaway takes a decidedly macabre turn when she stumbles upon an old flame, Andrew Foley, bleeding to death on the snow-clad slopes of Kelvingrove Park.

Who killed Foley in such a brutal manner — and why? If the police have any leads, they’re keeping them under wraps. Convinced that Foley was deliberately targeted rather than the victim of a random attack, Anna begins her own investigation, and in so doing unearths a trail of long-buried secrets, leading back to a crime committed over a decade ago.

A crime so unspeakable its perpetrators are prepared to take their silence to the grave.

In the Silence, my upcoming murder-mystery novel set in Glasgow, grew initially out of my love for the Italian ‘giallo’ thriller movies of the late 1960s and early 1970s: violent, stylish whodunits centring around amateur sleuths — often writers, musicians or people connected to the arts in some other way — thrust into the thick of the hunt for a violent, deranged serial killer by virtue of having been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Films like Dario Argento’s Deep Red, Lucio Fulci’s A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Massimo Dallamano’s What Have You Done to Solange? and all manner of other weird and wonderful-sounding titles. Over the course of the last decade, through several redrafts and a change in medium from screenplay to novel, In the Silence has become less of a direct reworking of those films, but the giallo is in its DNA and my goal has always been to pay tribute to them.

My protagonist, Anna Scavolini, would have been very much at home in the giallo world. (In fact, she even shares a surname with a prolific giallo screenwriter, Sauro Scavolini.) A twenty-eight-year-old criminology lecturer who’s spent the last ten years living and working in Rome, Anna returns to her native Glasgow during one of the coldest winters on record and finds herself plunged into a dark, grisly mystery when she chances upon Andrew Foley, a former schoolmate for whom she used to carry a torch, bleeding to death on the snow-clad slopes of Kelvingrove Park. With the police seemingly making little headway, Anna — prevented from leaving the country due to her status as star witness — begins asking questions herself and, in so doing, unearths a shocking crime committed over a decade ago, forcing her to confront the past from which she herself has been running for the last ten years.

The themes of In the Silence emerged over the course of drafting and redrafting. It remains, at its heart and like so many of the films that inspired it, a story about long-buried trauma and the lengths people will go to in order to keep it that way. There are, in effect, two narratives: that of the crime which took place ten years ago and that of the events in the present day. I’ve always been drawn to these kinds of mysteries, where the long fingers of the past reach into the present, with cataclysmic results. All the principal characters in the novel are, to some extent, defined by and haunted by events which took place in the past, and arguably none more so than Anna, in spite of her best efforts to disentangle herself from her roots and deny the influences that have shaped who she is today.