Silent Storm, the second book in Amanda Stevens’s Quantum Men series, is less startlingly original than the first, but it’s a better story overall. With her trademark sense of atmosphere, Stevens weaves a chilling tale that builds nicely on the promise of the first book.
An unusually rainy spring brought death and despair to Mission Creek, Texas. Three people committed suicide in just a few weeks, a high rate for such a small town. Deputy Marly Jessop has just discovered a fourth when she meets Deacon Cage. He says he came to Mission Creek to check on the fourth victim, and he warns that something more sinister than mere suicide is at work in the town.
Deacon knows that there are forces involved Marly can’t even imagine. He was part of a military experiment to create super soldiers with paranormal abilities. Now he spends his time hunting down these soldiers, people like him, whose capabilities can make them dangerous to the public. He believes one of these individuals is involved in what’s happening in Mission Creek. He needs Marly to help him catch a killer capable of killing using only the mind. But first he has to convince her that the seemingly impossible is terrifyingly real.
Most of the material involving the super soldiers was established in the first book in the series, His Mysterious Ways, but it’s not necessary to have read that one. The author does a good job using that setup here to create a frightening suspense story that stands on its own. She has a very unsettling premise – perfectly happy people driven to kill themselves for no reason – and uses it to maximum effect.
The story leans heavier toward the suspense than the romance, but is very successful in that respect. Mission Creek is one of those fictional towns you couldn’t imagine wanting to visit in real life. There’s something a little eerie, a little wrong about it from the first rain-drenched page. From the slick minister with an almost hypnotic effect on his flock to the abandoned army base nearby, Stevens creates a town where there’s a feeling of unease in the air. Everybody seems to have a secret or something they’re withholding. There are plenty of very creepy touches spread throughout the story, like a song that, legend has it, can cause people to kill themselves just from hearing it.
It’s not hard to understand why Marly feels so uneasy there. While she admits right from the start that she’s not cut out to be a cop and it was a mistake to have joined the force, she’s still a good heroine for this story. She’s smart enough to try to put things together and strong enough stand up for herself more than once. Deacon is a mysterious and tortured hero with plenty of secrets of his own. The romance is less dominant than the suspense, but they still share a good connection and there’s a nice sense of electricity to their interactions that makes it clear there’s a real spark there.
It’s a good mystery plot: complex, fast-moving, and full of possibilities. As always, Stevens keeps her story unpredictable. It all culminates in one of the author’s patented surprise endings. As enjoyable as the book was though, the denouement didn’t quite live up to my expectations, and rushed by. And yet it’s also good when a solution is unexpected, so I can’t complain too much.
I had a feeling the author was on to something after the first book. Silent Storm proves this to be the case. It’s one neat and effective little thriller, and a great read.