The Ethics of Silence by C. J. Nash

Publication Date: June 24, 2021

Mason Turner is sent from Earth to the Mars Colony to investigate a murder. What Mason finds is a community entrenched in its secrets and a people divided and information a commodity that is in short supply. With everyone and time working against him will Mason uncover the secrets of the red planet?

I was given this book by the author, C. J. Nash, in exchange for an honest review.


Let me begin by saying that the plotline of this story is a great idea. One of my former coworkers always said “Everyone hates the new guy” and that is the first thing that Mason learns when he gets off of the space craft and meets his guide, Janet. The Mars colony wants to be left alone. They have faced obstacles that their early counterparts cannot imagine and the murder is perceived to be family business of a sort of Mason is an interloper. No one likes him, no one wants him there (even the guy who requested him) and if he’s not careful he may go the way of his long dead investigative subject.

The first third of The Ethics of Silence is world building. I don’t know Nash’s background but I would guess he has a strong base in a scientific field. There are clever callbacks that short cut the process. Mason meets a character that Janet calls a “Morelock” which will immediately paint a picture for readers familiar with The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Some readers may call this lazy but it’s done in a way that is referential and yet conveys the attitude of the colonists toward an idea of digging into the planet they see as simply too risky and perhaps on the fringe of group-think. Early on Nash highlights a natural division in a small community that is perhaps reminiscent of any early and sparsely populated colony. 

Nash’s writing style involves a lot of telling. In one scene an attempt is made on Mason’s life and we get a lengthy description of what happened from Janet instead of seeing the event. The exposition is weighty and, for this reader, bogged the story down a bit. In the aftermath, Janet is held responsible for the event and Mason, contrary to common sense as we know there’s no way for him to leave, just as the investigation is starting pleads to go home and for another investigator to be sent to punish him instead of Janet. I found that outburst to be inconsistent with the situation that the plot has set up. In addition, I found it really odd that we were in Chapter 5 before Mason learns the name of the deceased. Janet tells him that one of the rules is not to rush but he seems to have a lack of natural curiosity that one would find  natural in an investigator. 

I’ll be honest with you, readers, when I started reading this novel I did not have high hopes. The story has good bones but there were things to which this reader had to adjust. The aforementioned world building made it unclear if the story would pick up at some point though logic said it would. There are few to no transitions in dialogue which, for this reader, threw me off a bit. Transitions are overall unnecessary in literature but they are what modern readers expect instead of the rapid fire Gilmore Girls style give and take which – lets be frank – can be fun once you get used to the speed and quick wit of the banter. What I least expected is what happened in The Ethics of Silence, the story took a rapid and unexpected turn for the interesting and suddenly Mason et al got clever which naturally caused this reader to realize that the first part was him getting his footing. Not so interesting at first but once it grabs you, you’re caught.

It’s often said that male authors can’t write female characters. Nash has set himself in a world where he is redefining natural character experience so the rules don’t apply. Janet is a character much like the other residents of Mars in her banter and very different to Mason in her approach to life. They read, at times, like two sides of the same character with Mason often coming off as the softer or more naïve which is a nice contrast. 

All of this said, the story does pick up and become quite interesting. Mason and Janet do develop as characters. Janet, perhaps, not as naturally as Mason but she does become quite interesting within the story. I opened the review saying that the plotline of this story is a really good idea. There are little twists that highlight a difference of outlook that I really enjoyed that reads as organic – and when you read The Ethics of Silence – you will note that as a play on words. 

Overall, I enjoyed The Ethics of Silence. Were I not reading it to review, I likely would have stopped reading early on when Janet was still highlighting the “rules” for Mason. My recommendation is to pick up The Ethics of Silence, hang in there and then savor the skill of the story you end up with. I could also add that some authors that I don’t enjoy also employ this method and they’re NYT Bestsellers so obviously, there are lots of people who prefer this style of writing.

Pick up The Ethics of Silence and let me know what you think.

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