The Woman Who Couldn’t
Scream is a classic Christina Dodd novel. Her heroines
have some handicap yet are determined in spite of facing adversity.
They fight to take control over their life. This installment
of the Virtue Falls series brings back Kateri Kwinault, now
the sheriff, who ignores her handicap of being physically
disabled. The other heroine, a stand-alone character Merida
Falcon is mute after a horrific accident. Dodd fabulously
weaves together these two women within a thrilling plot and
a “whodunit” mystery.
The plot has Merry Byrd seriously injured in an explosion
that meant to kill her. She had to undergo numerous facial
surgeries that changed her appearance. To get the financing
she had to make a pact with the devil, a possessive old geezer
who wanted her for his trophy wife. Changing her name to Helen
Brassard she endured nine long years of his abusive, controlling,
and manipulative ways. After he died Helen reinvents herself
yet again. She disappears and remerges as the beautiful, reclusive
Merida Falcon in the coastal town of Virtue Falls, WA. This
tourist town has its share of killers, which preoccupies Merida’s
childhood friend, the current sheriff.
Dodd commented, “I had taken a two-week transatlantic
cruise and was able to observe different personalities. I
started thinking about different scenarios including what
would make someone want to become a trophy wife, having to
service an old and disgusting guy. YUK! I wondered if they
sought revenge, money, were being blackmailed, or wanted to
escape something in their past. Merida was a close childhood
friend of Kateri so I also wanted to show how they both used
their past association to gain strength from each other.”
Sheriff Kateri Kwinault is trying to find a serial killer
who slashes their victims to death. Besides dealing with this
she is recovering from a drive by shooting which left her
needing to walk with a cane, her best friend hovering near
death, a series of unexplained murders, a deranged local meth-head
criminal, and a complicated love life. It is interesting how
both heroines struggle to come to grips with their physical
handicap, are unable to have parents that provided unconditional
love, are subjected to emotional abuse, and fear that their
boyfriends tried to kill them.
What Dodd does very well is allow readers to learn more about
people who are mute. They enter Merida’s world and begin
to understand that not only deaf people use sign language.
But people also realize that technology has considerably helped
those who lost these senses. Merida introduces herself via
sign language or use of a computer tablet, signing or typing,
“I am mute, unable to speak. I am not deaf. Please do
not shout!” This never interrupts the flow nor detracts
from the plot but adds a layer of complexity to the storyline.
It might also spur someone to want to learn more about the
different ways of communicating with someone deaf or mute.
Merida has some mental anguish, but will not let her muteness
define her. Dodd feels “people with handicaps are not
broken and do not need to be fixed. They are whole people.
They were put in circumstances they never dreamed of, but
were able to pick themselves up. I want people to consider
what it is like for someone who loses one of their senses.
Most people ridiculously talk to someone in the same manner
they speak with a person who does not understand their language:
either raising voices or speaking very slowly. I also wanted
to show how someone communicates with sign language. They
can hear us, but cannot respond so they sign. Did you know
you could say someone is mute, but not ‘a mute?’”
This novel blends an understanding someone’s handicap
within a plot involving murder, spousal abuse, and relationships.
The story is fast paced and has high intensity with a variety
of twists and turns. Readers will scream in disappointment
that the story has ended.