Spotlight: The Silent Brother by Simon Van Der Velde

Hey everyone!
Today, I am sharing a spotlight post for The Silent Brother by Simon Van Der Velde with you all, so that you can learn a little about the book. I’ve also been sent some cool content from the author, including a list of his top 5 crime books! I’m super excited about this book myself, and will be sharing a review with you in the next few weeks.


Title: The Silent Brother
Author: Simon Van Der Velde
Release Date: 16th June 2022
Publisher: Northodox Press
Buy It Here (affiliate links): Amazon UKWaterstonesBook Depository

GoodReads Synopsis:

The Past Never Dies
When his beloved little brother is stolen away, five-year-old Tommy Farrier is left alone with his alcoholic mam, his violent step-dad and his guilt. Too young to understand what has really happened, Tommy is sure of only one thing. He is to blame.

Tommy tries to be good, to live-up to his brother’s increasingly hazy memory, but trapped in a world of shame and degradation he grows up with just two options; poverty or crime. And crime pays.

Or so he thinks.

A teenage drug-dealer for the vicious Burns gang, Tommy’s life is headed for disaster, until, in the place he least expects, Tommy sees a familiar face…

And then things get a whole lot worse.


Inspiration Behind The Story:

Working in the east end of Newcastle could be pretty dispiriting.  Hard as we tried to make things better, there was always someone, plenty of someones, ready to tear it down.  Drug and alcohol abuse was everywhere – as was anger and frustration, vented in seemingly pointless, and often vicious violence.  

Put in a new central heating system, they’d rip it out to sell the copper pipe.  Give them double-glazing, they’d put a brick through it.  During the riots of 1999, local people set fire to their neighbours’ homes.  In the end, it was hard to avoid feeling that these people deserved what they got.

They didn’t.

There was a time, in living memory for some, when fully half the world’s shipping was built on the Tyne, and people would joke about the obvious foolishness of bringing coals to Newcastle.  Not anymore.

These days, when a major employer closes down special teams are brought into the area to help with retraining, and attract new employers.  But in Thatcher’s Britain, when the unions, heavy industry and even the north itself was the enemy – closing down the mines and the decline of the shipyards was an end in itself.  A victory.  Something like the victory in Iraq, with no plan beyond winning the ‘war’.  

The effect on these communities was devastating.  Generations of skilled workers lost their jobs.  More than that, they lost their identity and their union, and often their families.  How could they teach their children the meaning of a hard day’s work for a fair day’s pay? – in this new world of every man for himself.  And why would their children listen to these old mens’ stories? – when both father and children were signing on at the same dole office.  

Abandoned and useless, these once proud men faded away.  Worse still, their children grew up without hope or direction.  The old order was gone, and there was nothing to replace it and nothing to do, except anaesthetize yourself from day to day, until the hopelessness got too much – and erupted into violence.  Ambition meant getting a few quid together, enough to score a deal to get you through the emptiness, until next week’s giro.  Dignity and community were replaced by crime and booze and drugs.  

We’re on the third generation now.  For them, the glory days are something the history teacher drones on about.  It has nothing to do with their lives.

In a community with so little hope, overstretched social services and policing priorities elsewhere, it’s easy for the gangsters to take over – and anyway, no one likes a grass.  Some, heroically, stay and fight for their community.  But the truth is that most of the time, those who can, get out.

This is the world our hero, Tommy grows up in.  So if The Silent Brother is dark in places, it’s because my aim is to tell it how it is.  To highlight the link between victim and perpetrator, and show you that often, they are one and the same.

In writing this book, I asked myself – if I had grown up in this world, what, if I was brave enough, might I have done to survive?

The Silent Brother is my answer.

Simon Van der Velde March 2022


Simon Van Der Velde’s Top 5 Crime Books:

I’ll be up front about this – I’m definitely taking a broad definition of ‘crime’, because that’s what I like. The standard, off-beat detective unravelling clues chapter by chapter just doesn’t do it for me. Frankly, you can stick your cozy crime where the sun don’t shine. I need my crime gritty and powerful, and my characters vividly real – so if that’s what lights your candle – here we go:

5. Killing Floor – Lee Child – Really, I could’ve picked any of his books, possibly because they’re all the same. (Sorry, that was bitchy.) While there is something of a thematic overlap (!) – Lee gets me turning those pages at a pace no one else can match. He has that way of telling you, ‘something bad’s about to go down,’ that imbues every opening of a door, every glance and every sound, with an irresistible propulsive tension…

4. Shuggie Bain – Douglas Stuart – A slow burner in places, but so horrifyingly true, and so powerful. There are many books that show us what love can do. This one shows us what it can’t do. Heartbreaking, deadly, and dark as any Scottish winter.

3. Red Riding (Quartet) – David Peace – Again, you can take your pick from any of these brilliant – uber gritty, uber real, high speed novels, set in a 1970’s world of arbitrary (in)justice, abuse and terror. I was a child in the 70’s, fooled by the illusion of British justice, and the smooth lies of self-righteous politicians. David ripped all that away. He left my illusions tattered, shit-stained and sniveling in the dark.

2. The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead – Spectacular. A thrilling, terrifying and hugely important piece of work. I loved Cora from the start. Her bravery blew me away, and by God, she needed to be brave, because Colson quite rightly didn’t hold back when showing us exactly what was at stake, (burning and screaming for death, at the stake).

1. November Road – Lou Berney – Again, I could’ve picked any of his books. Every one of them is absolutely on it – with a tense hundred mile an hour plot, and the added joy of such sharp, charming, witty characters that they made me want to slide inside the pages with them. ‘I like a girl who can get the ball back over the net,’ he says. Well, me too, Lou, me too.

I wouldn’t say that I write quite like any of these guys, or even that I aspire too, but if I had a hat on, I’d take it off to them – truly, masters of our craft.

Simon Van der Velde 7th June, 2022


About The Author:

Simon Van der Velde has worked variously as a barman, labourer, teacher, caterer and lawyer, as well as travelling throughout Europe and South America collecting characters and insights for his award-winning stories.

Simon Van der Velde has worked variously as a barman, labourer, teacher, caterer and lawyer, as well as travelling throughout Europe and South America collecting characters and insights for his award-winning stories. Since completing a creative writing M.A. (with distinction) in 2010, Simon’s work has won and been shortlisted for numerous awards including; The Yeovil Literary Prize, (twice), The Wasafiri
New Writing Prize, The Luke Bitmead Bursary, The Frome Short- story Prize, The Harry Bowling Prize, The Henshaw Press Short Story Competition and The National Association of Writers’ Groups Open Competition – establishing him as one of the UK’s foremost short-story writers.

Simon now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, with his wife, Nicola, their labradoodle, Barney and two tyrannical children.

YOU CAN FIND SIMON HERE:
WebsiteTwitterFacebookInstagramGoodReads


Disclaimer: My posts often include affiliate links, which means that I receive a small commission for any purchase made through my links, but with no extra charge to you. Thank you for supporting me and my blog.


Twitter – Facebook – Instagram – GoodReads – TikTok – Etsy Store – Wish List

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: