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THE STUDY OF SILENCE by Malia Zaidi, Historical Mystery, 448 pp., $18.49 (Paperback) $8.99
Author: Malia Zaidi
Genre: Historical Mystery
completing her degree at St. Hugh’s, a women’s college in Oxford. Her
days are spent poring over ancient texts and rushing to tutorials. All
is well until a fateful morning, when her peaceful student life is
turned on its head. Stumbling upon the gruesome killing of someone she
thought she knew, Evelyn is plunged into a murder investigation once
more, much to the chagrin of her friends and family, as well as the
intriguing Detective Lucas Stanton. The dreaming spires of Oxford begin
to appear decidedly less romantic as she gathers clues, and learns far
more than she ever wished to know about the darkness lurking beyond the
polished veneer. Can she solve the crime before the killer strikes once
more, this time to Evelyn’s own detriment?
hair is tangled, a loose knot at the nape of my neck, where my head rests
against the cool stone wall. I close my eyes and see it all swimming like a
dream beneath my lids. And him, always him. I open my eyes, still here. Still here. The thought echoes in my
mind as if I have spoken it aloud, and it is bouncing from the uncaring walls
of this chamber.
beyond comes the sound of clanging metal. A door opens and with a screech is
shut again. Closed. Secured. Barred. Steps follow. Slow, reluctant steps. One,
two, three . . . I want to lose myself in the monotony of the rhythm. I grow
used to it, even enjoy it, when the steps suddenly cease once more. Silence.
Then nearby, another metallic cry. A key is turned in a rusty lock. A door is
opened. A door. My door. Steps again. Two this time. Only a small space to
cross. I notice his shoes first. They gleam in the low light. Attached to the
shoes, a man in a dour black suit. I look up at his face, but perceive only
shadow, dark lines. Squinting, I make no effort to get to my feet. There is no
pretending we are equals now. He has no choice, but to crouch to my level. I
have brought him down with me. To me.
by his youth. I had expected gray temples and furrowed brows. He is younger
than I, not by much perhaps, but nonetheless. His eyes meet mine. Can I speak
to him? Should I tell him the truth, my
truth? A sudden bang from a place beyond these walls makes him flinch and he
tears his gaze from mine, only for a moment, but it is decisive.
throat. My child. I am no one’s child
any longer. The words are ludicrous coming from this man, this frightened boy
in an adult’s body. He wants to be here nearly as little as I, and fights with
himself not to recoil at the sudden sound erupting from my mouth. I frighten
him. I, a helpless creature sitting at his feet, frighten him. Another choked
you?” I am struck by his earnest expression, nothing like the permanent
mask of stern reprimand, the looks of disgust I have received these past weeks.
Could I tell him? Might he understand? It would not change my fate. But someone
else would know the truth. Before I can think of reasons to stay silent, before
I can begin to understand the consequences, my words pour out. The last words I
will ever speak find compassionate ears. Once spoken, they cannot be unspoken,
and when I complete my tale, my truth, I am empty. There is nothing more and I
am nothing more.
whether he has paled at my confession. Our eyes meet in the gloom, glowing
embers. He watches me for another moment, then gets to his feet, brushes his
trousers and walks the few steps back to the door. I hear him rap the thick
wood twice. Then the lock is turned.
through me like flour through a sieve. Nothing sticks. Nothing stays. I am water
and he is oil. The door clatters shut and his steps fade away.
Interview with the Author
What initially got you interested in writing?
I have been a keen reader most of my life and thus have a great love for the written word. I cannot remember exactly when I decided to give it a try myself, but once I started, I couldn’t stop.
What genres do you write in?
The Lady Evelyn books are historical mysteries, which is also a genre I love to read.
What drew you to writing these specific genres?
I am a big fan of the genres mystery and historical fiction and writing historical mysteries, which combine these two passions seemed the most natural fit. I am also very interested in the time in which the books are set, the 1920s.
How did you break into the field?
What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?
I want to entertain my readers, first and foremost. I hope the mystery is engaging and the story thought-provoking. The Lady Evelyn Mysteries are all set in the years between the two wars, which was a time in which some people flourished and others, particularly those affected by the First World War, were often left behind. It is also a time in which women achieved greater independence, gaining the right to vote and growing more educated and able to partake in university life as Lady Evelyn does in The Study of Silence.
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
Being able to create characters, to feel as if I am traveling through time and space and interacting with readers who enjoy the books.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
The marketing aspect that comes after the book is written, edited and published. With so many books on the market, it can be a challenge to reach readers and stand out in the forest of other new publications.
What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?
Do not underestimate the value of reading! I learned so much from reading, more, I would say, than from actual writing classes. Also, don’t get discouraged too quickly. It can be frustrating, but if it is truly your passion, it will be rewarding, too.
What type of books do you enjoy reading?
I read most genres, but I do have a penchant for mysteries.
Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?
I love to travel and take inspiration from what I see and experience for my novels. I also like to paint expressionist landscapes.
What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?
You can find me on Goodreads under my name, my website maliazaidi.com, my blog princessandpen.com or across social media. If you want to send me a message, you can email me at email@example.com
in the US. An avid reader and traveler, she decided to combine these
passions, and turn her long-time ambition of writing into a reality. The Study of Silence is the third book of The Lady Evelyn Mysteries.
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