Say nothing by Brad Parks: book review

Say Nothing by Brad Parks book review

What is this about?: Judge Scott Sampson’s kids are kidnapped and he’s told that he has to give particular verdicts on the cases he’s presiding over.

What else?: Not much else, to be honest. Perhaps a smattering of marriage troubles, but that’s all that comes to mind.

Stars: 3

Blurb: On a normal Wednesday afternoon, Judge Scott Sampson is preparing to pick up his six-year-old twins for their weekly swim. His wife Alison texts him with a change of plan: she has to take them to the doctor instead. So Scott heads home early. But when Alison arrives back later, she is alone – no Sam, no Emma – and denies any knowledge of the text . . .

The phone then rings: an anonymous voice tells them that the Judge must do exactly what he is told in an upcoming drug case and, most importantly, they must ‘say nothing’.

So begins this powerful, tense breakout thriller about a close-knit young family plunged into unimaginable horror. As a twisting game of cat and mouse ensues, they know that one false move could lose them their children for ever.
Hugely suspenseful – with its fascinating insight into the US judicial system and its politics of influence and nepotism – Say Nothing is, above all, the poignant story of the terror these parents face, and their stop-at-nothing compulsion to get their children back.

Say Nothing is a technically proficient thriller, but I can’t say that I expected the lack of a connection to these characters: this a couple during the worst time of their lives but … something prevented me from completely connecting with them.


This hits all the right notes in terms of the overarching plot: kids kidnapped, and everyone is under suspicion. Scott’s life is as perfect as can be — he is respected as a judge, his marriage is solid and his kids are the apple of his eyes. He’s comfortable, which is why it was so easy for a kidnapper to grab his kids.

From then on, Parks slowly increases the tension as Scott and his wife Alison try to make sense of this and what the kidnappers want. Tempers fray with each other and with the people around them as they wait out the kidnappers and do what they’re told.

… but, and you knew this was coming

I didn’t get a sense that Scott and Alison were in this together, and for a book that is playing on the imagery of them as worried parents, that’s a problem.

The book is from Scott’s POV, and it’s on him to deliver the right judgements in court to get his kids back. Everything here is about his job, his past, his choices and his ability to deliver the right kind of judgement. Alison sort of hovers in the story, aiming her considerable intellect in trying to figure out what happened, but there’s … I don’t know, they just fell flat to me.

As the case unfolds, and suspects are found there’s still something missing in their storyline, and despite and ending that works to pull Alison into the story, there’s no emotional kick for what’s happened for them.

I don’t know, I’ve been writing this over and over, but what it really comes down to is this: this is a technically proficient thriller, but there’s no emotional kick to it. Scott and Alison are unequal characters, when they should have been in this together.


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