Cover image for Scream in silence
Scream in silence
Bland, Eleanor Taylor.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Minotaur, [2000]

Physical Description:
290 pages ; 22 cm
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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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And that's exactly what Eleanor Taylor Bland is -- a master.Through seven mysteries featuring African-American middle-aged homicide detective Marti MacAlister, Bland has developed into one of the best known and best-loved writers in the genre today.With Scream in Silence, Bland again delivers a suspenseful, multi-layered novel about her middle-aged cop raising a modern family in suburban Chicago with her new husband and holding down a dangerous job. An arsonist is on the loose in sleepy Lincoln Prairie, and the pattern shows he is escalating in intensity from simple blazes to sophisticated bombs. It's only a matter of time before his handiwork turns deadly, and Marti and her tired but dedicated partner Matthew Jessenovik must race against the clock.

Author Notes

Eleanor Taylor Bland was born in Boston, Massachusetts on December 31, 1944. She married a sailor when she was fourteen years old. She received a bachelor's degree in accounting and education from Southern Illinois University in 1981. She worked as an accountant at Abbot Laboratories until her retirement in 1999. In the early 1970s, she was diagnosed with Gardner syndrome and fought several bouts with cancer over the years. Her first novel, Dead Time, was published in 1992. She wrote the Marti MacAlister Mystery series. During her career, she received a Pen Oakland Josephine Miles Award and a Chester Himes Mystery Fiction Award. She died on June 2, 2010 at the age of 65.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In our 1997 Mystery Showcase, we identified police detective Marti MacAlister as a "lesser-known female sleuth" who deserved a wider audience. Since then, the smart, streetwise policewoman from Lincoln Prairie, Illinois, has developed the devoted following we felt she deserved. In the eighth installment in the series, Bland has devised one of her most complicated and intriguing plots yet. Arson, a dead woman found in the smoking ruins, and two bomb explosions--all in one week--serve as alarming reminders that even small towns like Lincoln Prairie can feel the heat of modern crime. Marti and her partner, Vik Jessenovik, race against time and a lack of hard evidence to figure out how or even if these crimes are related. Marti's home and family continue to be her Rock of Gibraltar, and, as in all the stories in the series, the contrast between criminals with dysfunctional backgrounds and Marti's nurturing home life delivers a strong message about the connection between childhood abuse and criminal behavior. Bland writes powerful moral tales without a trace of moralizing. If you're not yet acquainted with Marti MacAlister, it's high time you were. --Stuart Miller

Publisher's Weekly Review

A relentless arsonist, an elusive bomber, a puzzling murder--this burst of unrestrained mayhem in Lincoln Prairie, Ill., has Afro-American police detective Marti MacAlister and her partner, Vik Jessenovick, exhausted and perplexed. Virginia McCroft, political gadfly and busybody with "the personality of a lemon," is found dead by gunshot in the basement of a home destroyed by arson. Hard-working Marti, a widow who has just remarried, learns that Virginia had been irritating almost everyone and may have been involved in shady land deals or even blackmail. Interwoven with this ongoing investigation are passages in the intense and anonymous voice of a psychopathic bomber and arsonist who displays rage, frustration and plans for future violence. Marti's detective work, which reaches into a tragic past, continues in a convoluted yet absorbing fashion, but a subplot about a petty con man and his lofty aspirations for a big-time scam steals the show. Geoffrey Bailey, worthless but charming, is endearingly inept, and a hair-raising encounter with the arsonist brings him some unexpected consequences. Also enriching the story is Marti's extended family--a grandmother, children, stepchildren, new husband and friends, some troubled, some loving, but all unique in their small roles. This is a generously layered novel, with the best parts peripheral to the mystery. Author tour. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Mystery's first African American female homicide detective joins partner Matthew Jessenovik in tracking down a deadly arsonist and bomb-maker in suburban Chicago. Now juggling a new husband in addition to her kids, Marti MacAlister feels the pressure. A fine procedural. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One Det. Marti MacAlister parked as close as she could to the area where the bombing had occurred. It was a dark night in an isolated part of town. Dense stands of burr oak and bushes sheltered this part of the road where it ran along the northern perimeter of the Lincoln Prairie Municipal Airport. Branches overhung the street lamps, and few and far between, the houses across the street were further isolated by their distance from the road. Just ahead, red and white lights flashed, blinked, and whirled. No fatalities, the dispatcher had told her, just a mailbox blown all to hell. Just a mailbox--but damned close--not just to some small jets, but also to their fuel source.     Marti rolled down the window as her partner, Matthew "Vik" Jessenovik, approached the car. Vik was four inches taller than her five-ten. He had lost weight during his wife's recent illness, and at 145, was twenty pounds lighter than she was. Almost fifty, he was nine years older than her.     "Vik, what have you got on?" He was wearing a lightweight overcoat over what looked like pajamas.     Wiry salt-and-pepper eyebrows almost met across the bridge of his nose. He had a tendency to lean over and look down at people. Marti called it his vulture look; his craggy face and his beak nose, broken long ago, brought those birds to mind.     "Marti, some idiot set off a bomb thirty feet from the airport. For some reason, that sounded important. What took you so long to get here?"     She ignored that. After being a widow for more than four years she had remarried four months ago and Vik was still adjusting. Lately his remarks seemed to imply that she might not be giving the job enough priority. Maybe he was right this time. She and Ben had been right in the middle of something.     "What have we got?" she asked.     "There wasn't much damage. I don't know if that's because it was a small bomb or because the mailboxes are out here by the road and away from the houses. I guess we'll find out more about that when the bomb squad and the ATF are through. If they can tell us. The property owner is out of town. Only one neighbor heard anything." He pointed toward the only house with lights on. "There are half a dozen houses along this part of the road, with about a half a mile of undeveloped land behind them. I haven't talked with the people who reported it yet--I was waiting for you--but I woke up everyone else. So far, nobody up late; nobody out late. From the looks of it, they're not your average nosy types. As far as I can tell, everyone has gone back to bed. You'd think they would at least have some outdoor lights on. Maybe they don't want the pilots to mistake the street for a runway. Oh, apparently there is one barking dog--belongs to that house back there." He pointed to the house to the left of the blown-up mailbox.     "Why isn't it barking now?"     "The neighbors wondered about that too, but they were more pleased than concerned. Barking is definitely not encouraged, although I don't know why else anyone would want a dog."     Marti stifled a yawn. She glanced at the clock on the dashboard: 11:57. "What time did the call come in?"     "A little after eleven."     "Maybe we should check on the dog first." She got her flashlight out of the trunk.     They found a small mixed breed under some bushes about fifty feet from the house. The dog was lying in a thicket, like it had been tossed there.     "It looks like its neck was broken," Vik said.     Marti shivered and looked away. People who harmed animals disturbed her.     "Think we should tell them about their dog?" Vik asked. "The place is dark. It looks like they've gone back to sleep. Maybe the people who reported this can tell them in the morning. After all, they're neighbors."     "Whatever. It can wait." She didn't feel much like breaking the news either. Pets were like children to a lot of people. Yellow tape marked off the area where the explosion had occurred. The mailbox had been attached to a post that was sunk into the ground near a long gravel path leading to the house. All that remained was one jagged shaft of wood pointing upward. There were indentations on the hard-packed dirt where the force of the explosion slammed pieces of metal and wood into the ground, but nearby bushes and trees were undamaged. Marti had worked a car-bombing case when she was on the force in Chicago. She was glad there were no bodies this time. This one hadn't done much more damage than a large firecracker.     "Hell of a place for a bomb," Vik said, gesturing in the direction of the airport. "Too many corporate jets hangared there. Too many politicians flying in and out. It could be some fool playing a joke, or an irate neighbor, or somebody who's ticked off with one of those corporations."     "Or one of those politicians," Marti said. It was warm for the end of April. Spring had come with quiet rain and a slow greening. The mailbox in front of the house next door had petunias planted at its base. A light wind ruffled her hair. She unbuttoned her jacket. Too bad Vik couldn't take his coat off. Pajamas. This had to be his first experience with a detonated bomb; they did respond to calls reporting threats occasionally and she could remember him talking about one that hadn't gone off.     "Just what we need," Vik said. He kicked at the dirt. "Innovation, creativity, stupidity. If this was some damned fool prank ..."     "And if it wasn't?"     "Come on, MacAlister."     "Nobody's home, Vik. Why do you blow up a mailbox when nobody's home?"     "So they won't get hurt?"     "Then what's the point?"     "How the hell do I know? You think this was political?"     "We'll have a better idea of that when we see the day's flight list."     "Dammit, MacAlister, this is Lincoln Prairie, Illinois, not Belfast or Nairobi. We don't have any terrorists here. No skinheads, no neo-Nazis, no paramilitia."     "No?" she said. "Like hell."     This bomb and a fire earlier this evening, both without injuries or fatalities, along with a drive-by Saturday night with no injuries, made her uneasy. There was such a thing as too much luck. It tended to come in bunches--like trouble. There was a light on in the den when Vik pulled into the driveway. Mildred was waiting up for him. She must have had a good day. More and more now the days were good. MS wasn't fatal, at least that's what the doctor said. But it leeched away so much of her life. He could remember how she had loved to ice skate, and dance, and take long hikes in the woods. Now she couldn't walk more than ten minutes without her legs becoming weak. And, over time, there would be more changes, more restrictions. Now it was a just a walker, perhaps soon it would only be a cane, but one day it would be a wheelchair.     He let himself into their home and walked toward the light. His den was now their bedroom. As he walked, he heard the thump of Mildred's walker, and before he reached the doorway she was coming into the hall to greet him.     "Matthew!"     In his mind's eye, she was always the girl he'd married. When she smiled, the years fell away and she seemed as young as a bride.     " Moja serca ," he said in Polish, going to her. " Moja serca ." My heart. * * * He listened to the police band on his CB until daybreak. What a stroke of luck, finding that old book in the secondhand store. He had been looking for something to add to his World War I and II collection. All he could see was the spine when he pulled it from the shelf , Bombs Away. He almost put it back when he saw the condition it was in, but the diagrams caught his attention. Step-by-step instructions for making all kinds of bombs. He had to wear latex gloves when he handled it because the cover was so soiled it must have been handled by many people. The pages were dog-eared, and wrinkled and stained where someone had spilled coffee. It wasn't until he called the publisher to order another and was told it was no longer legal to own that he realized how valuable it was. That was two summers ago. Now, after assembling everything he needed, he had built and detonated his first bomb . Excerpted from SCREAM IN SILENCE by ELEANOR TAYLOR BLAND. Copyright © 2000 by Eleanor Taylor Bland. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.