THE CIRCLE OF SILENCE
Part 1: Hidden in plain sight
This thriller, frighteningly close to real life, is based on actual events. After several months of research including discussions with specialists from Europol and Scotland Yard, the authors takes on the subject of new and powerful human trafficking networks, and especially the way these networks manage to blend into our societies… without our noticing and in a legal manner.
A very hot topic currently which is of interest to many people… Showbiz figures such as Ashton Kutcher, Amal and George Clooney, Jodie Foster, Angelina Jolie and Ricky Martin have become passionate advocates against this scourge and in defence of victims.
The novel is in two parts. The first volume creates the background atmosphere and brings in the minutiae of character development to better expose the reader to this dark world. The descriptions, sometimes highly-detailed, always add an interesting dimension and more realism to the story. Agent Foster accidentally stumbles upon part of a network whose reach and power he could never have imagined.
In the second part, the tension and suspense grow with each chapter. And thus begins a merciless duel against powerful enemies…
Young Special Services agent, Clarke Foster, is totally unprepared when a material witness commits suicide. A single detail passed on by the pimp-turned-informer plays on his mind, so he embarks on his own journey of discreet investigation, dodging his superiors’ unexplained attempts to block his path.
In this case, there are too many mysteries and, above all, too much silence…
Gradually he unravels the first tangled threads of a sinister network, quite unaware of the organization’s vast scope and influence. And how far its tentacles can reach, towards the most unlikely individuals. Foster’s actions are enough to create a tiny glitch, unbalancing the perfectly oiled cogs of a ruthless machine. However, his own competence as a lone agent is quickly outperformed, and he’s unlucky enough to be caught out.
And so a confrontation of wits and stratagems ensues, a merciless shadowy struggle against a cohort of enemies as implacable as they are invisible, where the slightest misstep signifies certain death for him and those close to him.
PARALLEL WITH GREEK MYTHOLOGY
The Circle of Silence contains many of the elements of Greek myths and legends.
By Caroline Thonger, writer and journalist.
In Greek legend there are three worlds:
- Olympus (pantheon of the gods)
- Earth (land of the mortals)
- the Underworld (Hades)
Ancient Greek stories involve elements of all three environments.
In The Circle of Silence there are three underworlds (places hidden below ground level):
- Below decks in the liner (concealed beneath the glitz of the dining room)
- The secret underground lair of the Security / Counter-Intelligence Services (camouflaged beneath the train shed)
- The secret vaults in the 8th basement level of the archives (almost impossible to access)
The novel’s modern-day characters are reflecting traits typical of the classical Greek myths: Frank is the villain-turned-good guy, finally sickened by the corruption he’s been involved in. He has the moral courage to break from his past while trying to make amends. But he cannot outwit the shadows, so he is sacrificed in the attempt. However, his death will have repercussions, both positive and negative. Clarke is the obvious hero – possessed of good looks, charm, intelligence, loyalty to his best friend, and devotion to his partner. But despite all the ‘weapons’ available to him (equivalent to the abilities of the heroic warrior in Greek legend), he is sacrificed while trying to save his best friend. Tom is the reluctant hero, possessed of equally good looks and charm. But initially he has a naïve sense of justice. He is called upon to use resources he never knew he possessed, undergo tests of courage, and be unwillingly involved in the duel against the shadowy forces of evil. Clara has elements of the sorceress in Greek legend, including her ability to charm wild animals. But she is also initially too trusting, and has to endure the worst loss of her life. She feels impelled to seek revenge however hard the battle, and ends up being as fierce as the tigress she looks after.
Clara shows perhaps the greatest courage of all the characters – when she and Tom find themselves in extreme danger, pursued by the villainous Vlad and his men, she has no hesitation in luring them into a trap where their death is not only assured, but horrific.
The network has hideous yet human characteristics, just like the nightmarish monsters in Greek legend. In one aspect it is as cunning as Medusa, the Gorgon with a head writhing in snakes and whose fearsome glance could turn men to stone. In another aspect it is like the infamous Labyrinth, fiendishly designed to trap the unwary in its bewildering maze.
In Greek legend, the Gods sometimes transform themselves into animals in order to mingle with mortals. But animals can also be messengers of the Gods. This theme is reflected in the clues provided to Clarke when he discovers the young pimp’s pet.
Meanwhile the tigers in the nature reserve are the symbols of Clara’s ability, and also the tools of retribution.
In Greek legend, many of the heroes have to undergo extremely long and arduous journeys, being fraught with dangers they have to overcome (Odysseus took 10 years to reach his home).
In The Circle of Silence, most of the story takes place in a very short time-span, within seven days, which causes tension without respite or let-up. But there is also an element of the Gods playing dice with the mortals, in the split-second timing of the action, especially when Tom descends into the underworld of the archives, with the prosecutor hot on his heels.
In Greek legend, many of nature’s elements are deified in order to explain their character (there are Gods of the sun, the moon, of lightning and thunder, of the sea etc).
The thunderstorm at the end of Part 1 serves a dual purpose: it allows Tom an excuse to absent himself from the dinner table and so find the truth about what lies hidden below decks. And despite almost killing him it permits him to escape from the ship and be flung back onto the shore. Although he doesn’t realize it, his personal battle of survival against the elements provides him with resources he never knew he possessed to continue fighting the shadows.
Mortals v. gods
In The Circle of Silence the ‘shadows’ are particularly nebulous, devilishly clever in their disguises. They are able to transform themselves to appear respectable, capable of merging with ‘normal’ society. They use every trick available to them (such as hi-tech equipment). They are as slippery as snakes. The two men in positions of power are much more complex characters. Both representing sectors of ‘justice’, they have each become so powerful that they consider themselves to be ‘Gods’ above the reach of the law, as it is still the case today.
And yet the moral of the story is that those involved in all forms of human depravity, however disguised, will be finally caught out by their own over-ambition and greed.
“This novel really has extraordinary visual impact. Roman D.Hepburn must have a camera in his pen! It looks like a book written for the movies. Any reader of the Millennium Trilogy, John le Carré or Harlan Coben will greatly appreciate this author’s style.
The Circle of Silence is a huge work, but you never get bore reading it. It deals with a very topical issue: the disappearance and trafficking of young adolescents. In the form of a thriller, the author tackles an increasingly topical subject.
This book was chosen by a citizen jury of readers chaired by the very popular writer Paulo Coelho who is the author of The Alchemist, among others.
The Circle of Silence was ranked among the bestsellers very quickly: from the first days of its release, it was in the 30 best-selling novels, and in the top 15 in the thriller-suspense category.
The action of the novel takes place between the East Coast of the United States, Prague, Paris, The Hague and Brussels.”
Writer Gonzague Saint Bris
“ … The Circle of Silence is a suspense novel tackling the subject of today’s criminal organizations, that grant themselves the means to be impregnable. It dissects the entrails of a sprawling network of human beings, as well as the trafficking of synthetic drugs and high-level international corruption. These mafia networks often entice strangers into their environment against their will, where they rapidly find themselves trapped inside an evil downward spiral. This relentless thriller is as exciting as it’s disturbing. We’re irresistibly drawn by its voyeurism, its taboos, and its unexpected twists and turns, all the while remaining closely connected to our own world. You simply can’t put it down without finding out how the whole thing ends. That’s what will make me go back to the cinema the day the movie is released.”
“Drawn from true facts, The Circle of Silence is a gripping novel which belongs to the category of ‘intelligent’ thrillers. The author has deliberately avoided using firearms, favoring instead a rise in tension in the tradition of pure Hitchcock, with constantly surprising twists. The suspense mounts to a crescendo and doesn’t let up, leaving you breathless. To achieve this, the author revisits in masterful fashion the technique favored by Hitchcock and known as ‘monumentalizing.’ The apparently ‘small’ man or hero is confronted by overwhelming opposing forces on many levels: physical, psychological, social or institutional. The ending is grandiose … you’re sure to stay up all night! On a final note, this novel would make a wonderful movie.”
“… Inspired by tragically realistic facts, the plot revolves around gruesomely effective international mafia networks, protected by highly placed individuals. So we travel from New Jersey to Lisbon, from Prague to Paris, The Hague and Brussels … This is placed against a background of synthetic drugs and state-of-the-art technology, without it ever tipping over beyond the bounds of credibility. In this novel we’re led into a succession of breathtaking twists and turns by a prosecutor and his deputy. Strong emotions are guaranteed. Unputdownable.”
Based on true facts, The Circle of Silence leads us with panache into a parallel yet realistic universe, the world of international mafia gangs. Here we are far removed from the absurd scenario of the superhero saving the whole world, or of police inspectors flanked by men armed to the teeth. On the contrary, a plethora of seemingly unimportant facts and fatal coincidences are amassed in this novel, allowing sparse clues to appear like the isolated tentacles of a gigantic octopus, hiding … in plain sight.
The Circle of Silence is not a political but a sociological thriller, that taps into the universal unconscious. Depravity is endorsed at the highest level beneath a veneer of morality. Although most of the background setting is in Europe, it has global implications. The overriding question is: Who can you trust?
The twists and turns in the book are truly unpredictable. And the way the ‘shadows’ in the utterly credible mafia-style network are portrayed, hiding under layer upon layer of respectability, makes it impossible to predict whether they’ll ever be defeated. The reader’s interest is unfailingly held with a wealth of believable, well-drawn and varied characters, some extremely likeable, others quite despicable. Many of the descriptions match a ‘camera’s-eye view’, as if we were watching the whole thing on film. And the pace moves to a repeated crescendo, interspersed with deceptively calm breathing spaces. Once you start reading the novel, you’ll find it impossible to put down.
A subtle alchemy of adventures, heroism, suspense and emotion. A novel as broad as the Russian steppes. What a gift for the reader.