Jan Coffey is a pseudonym for a writing couple who’ve both had experience building submarines (their romance aka is May McGoldrick). That experience is apparent in every page of their latest suspense novel. Recreating the highly technical and claustrophobic world of a modern submarine isn’t something the lay author could do, and it’s their expertise that makes this novel work in so many ways. The only thing really working against it is word count.
Ship superintendent Amy Russell works at Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton, Connecticut as an engineer. The work is tough, but it pays well – and allows her time to spend with her twins. As a single mother Amy knows there’s never enough time. Her latest assignment is the electrostatic gyro navigator on the submarine USS Hartford. The navigator equipment was only recently installed and Amy is surprised that there are problems. Her task is to find out what’s wrong and fix or replace the machinery soon because Commander Darius McCann wants to put his sub back to work.
Now forty, Darius McCann wonders what he’s done with his life. His navy career is on track but the months he spends on board the Hartford are getting longer and longer, and his personal life is going nowhere. Being unexpectedly called out at four in the morning to meet the engineer who’ll fix his sub illustrates exactly what’s wrong with his life. Darius soon finds that his mid-life questions are the least of his problems on this particular day. Because it’s soon clear that he and Amy walked into something very bad when they boarded. Someone is hijacking the nuclear sub and only Darius and Amy stand between the country and a major terrorist attack.
Essentially Darius and Amy are in a race with time and geography. If the bad guys can get the sub into open waters, the entire east coast is at risk – with a nuclear submarine as a weapon, New York or D.C. could be obliterated. It’s as simple as that. The Coffey duo handle the main plot well. Darius and Amy’s plan on the sub and the tandem investigation of the powers that be on land are handled with straightforward style. These authors get to the point and that makes for a fast-paced read.
Darius and Amy are the hero and heroine, but they have counterparts working together at the Pentagon. That they’re also falling for each other is a bonus. Commander Bruce Dunn and Lieutenant Sarah Connelly have been tasked with the investigation into the personnel assigned to the Hartford, particularly Darius. As their investigation progresses they discover that Darius, because of his family background, may be framed for the plot. Also disturbing is the fact that they’re the ones doing the investigating. Previously Sarah was involved with Darius and Bruce is relatively new in his job. Why have they been asked to head this incredibly important investigation?
This novel is definitely suspense with romance attached. And the relationship that forms between Darius and Amy is very appealing. He’s used to being in command but never treats Amy as anything other then an intelligent human being. And speaking of Amy, what a great heroine. She is intelligent and competent but not written as a superwoman, thank goodness. Amy is written throughout as exactly what she is: a working mom caught up in a hijacking and possible terrorist attack. When she’s occasionally emotional, it just makes sense. Her interactions with Darius are also spot-on. The secondary romance is handled equally well, although I hope that Sarah and Bruce will get a bigger chance to shine in a sequel.
All three plot lines are well done, but they could have been better and given more depth had the book been about fifty pages longer. Darius has some middle-eastern blood from his mother’s side of the family which makes him a prime candidate for culprit. That fact gets too little play as the other threads in the story crowd it out. There is great suspense in Darius and Amy’s attempts to subvert the hijackers, but much of that is action. And the explanation for who the attackers are and what set their plan in motion is given short shrift.
Length aside, this is a rousing read with one caveat. Though the administration in power during the story is fictional, it’s clear that the authors are very aware of the short-comings of the current administration. If that would really get your back up, you might want to steer clear. If not, Silent Waters provides a nice, suspenseful read.