Anthony Quinn’s new crime thriller Silence: ‘A magnificent meditation on the Troubles’-Sunday Times

editorial image

The latest novel by Tyrone writer Anthony Quinn has been praised by the Sunday Times as ‘a magnificent meditation on the corrosive legacy of the Troubles’.

Silence, the third in the critically acclaimed Celcius Daly detective series, published on November 5, has already been picked by Easons as one of the best Irish novels of the year.

The novel, which Quinn describes as his darkest to date, is set in Tyrone and Armagh and focuses on the so-called murder triangle of the 1970s. It is dedicated to Monsignor Denis Faul, former teacher and headmaster of Quinn, whose dogged search for the truth helped inspire the book.

“Although Silence excavates the murky details of those very troubled times, it also functions as an entertaining detective thriller”, said Anthony, whose debut novel Disappeared was selected by the Times and the Daily Mail as one of the best books of the year.

“In a way that is the most generous thing you can do as a writer, to entertain your readers, and somehow encourage them to examine the sort of thing they would normally turn away from in their normal lives.

“The subject matter of Silence is so compelling, yet also so disturbing that I wanted to run away from it many times. However, I’m glad I stuck with it.”

Quinn said landscape was the key to his books, especially that of Tyrone, with its geography of moods and interweave of light and darkness.

“I take a guilty pleasure in drawing the reader’s attention to the strangeness of the local landscape, making them shudder at a gruesome-looking blackthorn tree, a rotting cottage, or a treacherous bog. I want readers to feel the dark gravity of the border countryside, its interlocking parishes of grief and murder, its mesh of twisting roads, the sense that out there amid the blackthorn thickets and swirling mists, loose bits of the past are still wriggling their way through the shadows.

“I was especially drawn to Lough Neagh. It’s the largest freshwater lake in Western Europe, but it must be one of the most unappreciated vistas on these islands, a void in the interior of Northern Ireland. Its water level sank about fifty years ago, removing it from the view of local roads and vantage points, so that might be one of the reasons for its hidden nature. In winter, it’s often shrouded in fog, adding to its air of being withdrawn into itself.

“It felt like a place accessible only to the imagination, and I thought it might be a useful metaphor for the hidden stories of the Troubles, the amnesia that has been operating in the midst of life here after the Troubles, the void at the heart of the peace process, the plight of victims and their quest for justice, the unsolved murders that have been quietly removed from view.”

Silence finds Daly mixed up in the case of Father Aloysius Walsh, who devoted his final years to amassing evidence of an extended homicide spree that, during the 1970s, took place along the Irish border.

So what provoked Father Walsh to speed through a police blockade and off the road to his death? Why, when Daly arrives at the scene, does he find members of Special Branch already there? And why is the name of Daly’s mother, who perished three decades ago, on the priest’s map of the border land killings?

“The screw of loss and estrangement is twisted further in Daly’s life, when he discovers that his mother was not the unfortunate victim of crossfire in a paramilitary attack as he had been told, but the intended murder target”, said Anthony.

“The book is not so much about the riddle of her death but the mystery of the silence that descended afterwards, the silence of the police and politicians, and his own father’s reticence in telling Daly the truth. Daly soon finds himself drawn back into the labyrinth of the past.”

The harback edition of Silence is now available in bookstores, and online at