Iris Johansen fans know her for the Eve Duncan suspense thrillers and for the blistering reads she delivers with every book. I have to mark time on my calendar to sit down with a new book because I know I won’t want to have to get up. Silent Thunder proved to be another grab-you-by-the-throat dash that pulled me along on a frantic chase for a deadly puzzle piece.
Although novelist Roy Johansen teamed up with his mother for this one, I couldn’t tell much difference. Evidently Mom’s taught son a lot of her moves and he can step right in without missing a beat.
I was intrigued by the choice of subject matter in the novel. I wouldn’t have figured the authors for having any real interest in or knowledge of nuclear submarines, but they obviously did their homework and had worked out they wanted to do. Johansen has researched many fields for her books, so this one shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
Hannah Bryson is an architect specializing in marine vessels. Her work on the Titanic brought her to national attention and catapulted her career into an international theater. The work she was doing on Silent Thunder, a decommissioned Soviet-era nuclear attack submarine, was supposed to be a short gig and didn’t involve anything big. She finds out too late that the mystery and danger that followed the submarine and its commander through the last years of the Cold War haven’t been completely eroded by time. That lesson costs Hannah more than she ever would have risked had she known.
Now, instead of walking away from a simple job, Hannah goes over the submarine with a fine-toothed comb and ferrets out crumbs of the much larger secret held within the craft. On the run for her life, not knowing exactly who she can trust, Hannah seeks revenge on the people who brought pain into her life.
As usual, Iris Johansen’s characters are a little on the thin side, but evolving them any more would have slowed the breakneck pacing that moves from event to event and from locale to locale. She writes books that hammer her readers with curiosity and tension, driving them to keep turning pages.
My wife and I both read this one and enjoyed it a lot. The characters were fun, and we didn’t mind Hannah’s superhuman photographic memory (though she and I haven’t met anyone with that ability yet). And we both stayed with the book until we turned the final pages. That’s about the best compliment a reader can offer an author.
Roy Johansen is an established, Edgar Award-winning author in his own right, and Iris has delivered a steady stream of New York Times bestsellers. Iris usually writes a couple novels a year, one of them sometimes featuring series regular Eve Duncan. It’ll be interesting to see if mother and son continue to write together, but if they do, they’ve definitely got a winning blend.