Book Review: The Silent Brother by Simon Van der Velde


The Silent Brother by Simon Van der Velde

Northodox Press (June 16, 2022)




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.




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 Amazon ebook USA – TSB

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A bit of a dark read, but a real read. It is based on life in a depressing community where our main character has a horrible childhood filled with neglect and abuse. He survives by turning to crime.  

I did enjoy the character Tommy and his unique childhood friendship with Annie. Not a smooth read for me, perhaps because I was unfamiliar with some of the UK vernacular. Written so you feel the emotions. A satisfying ending with a future of hope.


Reviewed by Comfy Chair Books/Lisa Reigel (April 28, 2022)

Digital ARC provided by author


#TheSilentBrother #SimonVanderVelde #Crime #Urban #Literary #ContemporaryFiction #Fiction #SocialJustice


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Contact the author at:



About The Author


Simon Van der Velde was born and educated in Newcastle upon Tyne where he trained and practiced as a lawyer. Writing, however, was always

the real passion, and Simon has now left the legal profession in order to concentrate on his writing. Since completing a creative writing M.A. (with distinction) at University of

Northumbria in 2011, Simon’s work has won and been short-listed for numerous awards including; The Yeovil Literary Prize, (twice), The Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal, The Wasafiri New Writing Prize,

The Luke Bitmead Bursary, The Frome Short Story Prize, The Writers’ and Artists’ Short Story Prize, The Harry Bowling Prize, The Henshaw Press Short Story

Competition and The National Association of Writers’ Groups Open Competition.

Simon is the founder and chair of Gosforth Writers Group and author of the widely acclaimed, Amazon bestseller, Backstories, ‘the stand-out mostoriginal book of the year’ in 2021.

His literary crime novel, The Silent Brother is published on 16th June, 2022 by Northodox Press. Simon is currently working on both Backstories II and his follow-up crime novel,

Dogwood. Having travelled throughout Europe and South America, Simon now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne with his wife, labradoodle and two tyrannical children.


The Inspiration behind The Silent Brother

Victims or Perpetrators?

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


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

  1. 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


The Silent Brother is my answer.


Excerpts from The Silent Brother

‘They’re coming for you,’ Mam said

That’s how it all got started…cos of me being a coward

Bells, it says, but is doesn’t ring, it crashes

‘Do as your told and there’s five grand in it for you. Or you can piss

about and get another kicking’

Back in Walker …with the police camera that never works and the half

bricks lying in the road, and all those mean-eyed bastards sitting on

their front steps, getting pissed, shouting the odds at anyone who

looks at them.


‘All I want is a fair cut.’ ‘You want your cut? I swear, you f*ck me about and you’ll get your f*cking cut’

I’ve got a good feeling about this. I’ve got a good feeling about everything. So long as I keep the music playing and the

money coming, so long as I don’t go back down Belmont Street, so long as I keep on flying and never look down.

Her arms pull me closer. Her body draws me deeper. I don’t know where I end, where she begins.

The place is normally lit in this pink-ish dusk with silk sheets hanging off the balcony rail, so it looks like the sort of boozer

Aladdin might’ve bought after he found his genie. But Aladdin didn’t buy it. Eddie


“The Silent Brother is a story of love, family and redemption,

written with broadly similar sentiments to Shuggie Bain.”


“Proppa Geordie crime fiction – with a heart”


“A throwback to the days when writers bared their souls”


“A ’90’s story of love, family and redemption in the east-end of



”When all you can hear is the silence”



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