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A Dangerous Silence

by Catherine Palmer

published 2001


From the back cover:

Successful pediatrician Marah Morgan returns home to help run the family farm after her father suffers a disabling injury.  Marah finds herself reluctant to help a man who has not shown her the love she longs for and who holds the key to a tragedy from her childhood.

When government archaeologists arrive to excavate Indian burial grounds on the Morgan farm, Marah becomes suspicious.  Then a mysterious farmhand arrives, a man who both fascinates and frightens her.  As events build to a deadly climax, Marah must rely on her faith for the strength she needs in a desperate fight for survival.

So Catherine Palmer is a mixed bag for me.  I’ve definitely read some of her books that I really enjoyed (her “Town Called Hope” series was surprisingly pleasant), others are more in the “meh” category.  While A Dangerous Silence had a lot of potential, the ending seemed abrupt and weak, leaving me with a 3/5 vibe for the book as a whole.

Marah is an engaging lead character.  She is intelligent and independent, a successful pediatrician in Saint Louis.  Although she’s a Christian, Marah has one area of her life she’s never really turned over to God – her relationship with her father.  A hard, proud man, Marah has never understood him, or why he was unable to ever show her the affection and love she craved as a child.  More or less forced by circumstances to return to her father’s farm in Kansas to help him while he recovers from a bad fall, Marah is also forced to face emotions and events she has kept buried for years.

To keep the story interesting, the other plot line involves government agent Judd, who is assigned to work at the Morgan farm in order to keep an eye on a man posing as an archaeologist from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Milton Gregory.  Gregory, we learn towards the beginning of the story, is on the hunt for a disease that he will use to exact his revenge on the government (BWAHAHA).

The Marah/Marah’s dad storyline is strong.  Our characters are forced to learn the importance of truth and honesty, and they both learn how to view things from the other’s perspective, all done well, without being overly sweet or dramatic.  Marah’s developing relationship with Judd is also good.  A weak point in this story, however, is that we find that Marah has three sisters who have also left the farm and moved on to lives of their owns, apparently with the same negative feelings towards their father as Marah has at the beginning of the story – and there is never really any resolution there.  Marah finds healing, but there is never a feeling that the entire family has been bonded back together.  This feels especially counter-intuitive because we are never told why Marah is the daughter who has to come back – if she has three sisters, why are none of them helping?

While the whole evil-terrorist-archaeologist story had its moments, overall it felt quite forced, especially when we finally learn Gregory’s backstory/motivation.  That he was busted out for doing back-alley abortions feels really weird for a story written/theoretically set in 2001, when abortions have been legal since 1973.  Has Gregory really been plotting revenge for almost thirty years??  The grand climax with a hostage situation at the farm was exciting, but ended very suddenly with an epilogue that wrapped everything up with a tidy bow, sweeping the odds and ends that felt like they wouldn’t fit under the rug.

I enjoyed this book while I was reading it (when I was able to suspend logic for several chapters at a time), but it’s not one I particularly can recommend or would want to read again.  A solid 3/5.

3 thoughts on “A Dangerous Silence

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