Book Reviews

Review: The Unspoken: An Ashe Cayne Novel by Ian K. Smith

Lately I’ve been in the mood for a detective novel. You know those moods when you just want a book with a chase, mystery, and culprits? That’s why I am so glad The Unspoken was on my shelf! It’s a diverse detective novel featuring a missing woman in Chicago. Keep reading this book review if you also need a good mystery!


Former Chicago detective Ashe Cayne is desperate for redemption. After refusing to participate in a police department cover-up involving the death of a young black man, Cayne is pushed out of the force. But he won’t sit quietly on the sidelines: he’s compelled to fight for justice as a private investigator…even if it means putting himself in jeopardy.

When a young woman, Tinsley Gerrigan, goes missing, her wealthy parents from the North Shore hire Cayne to find her. As Cayne looks into her life and past, he uncovers secrets Tinsley’s been hiding from her family. Cayne fears he may never find Tinsley alive.

His worries spike when Tinsley’s boyfriend is found dead—another black man murdered on the tough Chicago streets. Cayne must navigate his complicated relationships within the Chicago PD, leveraging his contacts and police skills to find the missing young woman, see justice done, and earn his redemption.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: mentions of pedophilia

The Unspoken is a story that surprised me. Sure that’s kind of the whole point of a mystery novel, but there were these hidden layers throughout the book. First off, Cayne is hiding a lot. Throughout the mystery, we are not only introduced to his backstory through memories, but also his life outside his current case. Without spoiling Cayne’s backstory, it’s a story that asks us not only about ethics, but about the failings of the justice system.

Additionally, while I greatly enjoyed the mystery and sleuthing, I ended up enjoyed The Unspoken for Cayne’s character as well as the title. That seems like a weird sentence right? Well The Unspoken revolves constantly around all the things that lie in the unspoken spaces and silences. It’s a story that balances its focus equally on the people who work to tease out the lies and illusions, as well as the shadows in the ellipses. A detective novel is supposed to uncover the hidden agendas, but The Unspoken takes pleasure in revealing the details they leave out.


Part of the joy of a detective novel for me is that feeling of the threads coming together. The Unspoken is a great detective novel that will sweep up mystery fans alike. While there were some parts which I felt were drawn out a bit, I think it’s a solid start to a new series. Find The Unspoken on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


Do you have a favorite detective novel?

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