Silent Thunder

( 49 )


It was the assignment of a lifetime. . . .

Brilliant marine architect Hannah Bryson has been given the job of a lifetime. A U.S. maritime museum has just acquired the decommissioned Soviet submarine Silent Thunder for public exhibition. It’s Hannah’s job to make sure that every single inch of the legendary nuclear attack sub is safe for the thousands of visitors anticipated. Enlisting the aid of her brother, ...

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It was the assignment of a lifetime. . . .

Brilliant marine architect Hannah Bryson has been given the job of a lifetime. A U.S. maritime museum has just acquired the decommissioned Soviet submarine Silent Thunder for public exhibition. It’s Hannah’s job to make sure that every single inch of the legendary nuclear attack sub is safe for the thousands of visitors anticipated. Enlisting the aid of her brother, Connor, they examine the enormous vessel and delve into its long---and lethal---history.

But is it really a trap?

In the course of their investigation, Connor discovers a mysterious message behind one of the ship’s panels. But before he can figure out what it means, there’s a deadly assault on Silent Thunder. . . .

Though the U.S. government tries to warn Hannah away, she’ll stop at nothing to find the ruthless mastermind behind her brother’s death. Even if it means joining forces with a mysterious man who may be even more dangerous than the enemy she has sworn to bring down. As Hannah finds herself in the crossfire of an epic standoff, her only hope for survival is to unravel the sub’s explosive secret. But someone’s willing to kill to make sure Silent Thunder stays silent. . . .

Brisk, exhilarating, and filled with authentic details, Silent Thunder is what you get when you team the biggest name in suspense with the stunning plot twists of an Edgar Award--winning author. Get ready for a page-turning thrill ride!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The talented Johansens-mother and son, teamed for the first time-offer a rousing adventure that follows marine architect Hannah Bryson as she struggles to uncover a terrorist threat aboard a nuclear submarine, all in the name of tourism, of course. Though the plot is far-fetched, this thriller is read with passion and vigor by Jennifer Van Dyck. Her voice is steeped in mystery, creating an absolutely stirring and brooding atmosphere. Van Dyck's characters are each as original and thoughtfully crafted, her wide-ranging dialects ring true and bring an air of authenticity. Van Dyck's passionate reading serves the story well, drawing listeners into the tale from the opening paragraph. A St. Martin's hardcover (Reviews, May 12). (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher

“Bestseller Johansen and her Edgar-winning son, Roy, collaborate on their first thriller with entertaining results.”—Publishers Weekly



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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781615530809
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 7/8/2008
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Iris Johansen
IRIS JOHANSEN is the New York Times bestselling author of Blood Game, Deadlock, Dark Summer, Silent Thunder (with Roy Johansen), Pandora’s Daughter, Quicksand, Killer Dreams, On the Run, Countdown, Firestorm, Fatal Tide, Dead Aim, No One to Trust and more. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia.


After her two children left home for college, Iris Johansen decided to devote her new found free time to writing. Since she loved reading romance novels, she penned a love story, and found to her surprise that "I was just as voracious a writer as I was a reader." During the 1980s, her name was emblazoned on dozens of slender volumes featuring spirited adventuresses, passionate mystery men, and smoldering love scenes. These days, Johansen is one of a posse of former romance writers dominating the New York Times bestseller lists.

Early on in her career, Johansen developed the habit of following characters from book to book, sometimes introducing minor characters in one novel who then become major figures in another. She developed families, relationships, and even fictional countries in her romance novels, which "stretched the boundaries of the standard formulas," according to Barbara E. Kemp in Twentieth-Century Romance and Historical Writers. In 1991, Johansen broke out of category romance (a term for short books written to conform to the length, style and subject matter guidelines for a publisher's series) with The Wind Dancer, a romantic-suspense novel set in 16th-century Italy. She followed it with two sequels, Storm Winds and Reap the Wind, to form a trilogy, then wrote several more stand-alone romance novels before The Ugly Duckling was published in 1996.

The Ugly Duckling was her first book to be released in hardcover -- and the first to significantly broaden her readership beyond her romance fan base. Since then, Johansen's plots have gotten tighter and more suspense-driven; critics have praised her "flesh-and-blood characters, crackling dialogue and lean, suspenseful plotting" (Publishers Weekly). Some of her most popular books feature forensic sculptor Eve Duncan, who first appeared in The Face of Deception in 1998. But Johansen seems equally comfortable with male protagonists, and her books have crossed the gender division that often characterizes popular fiction. Indeed, Publishers Weekly called The Search "that rarity: a woman's novel for men."

Good To Know

Johansen rewrote the ending of Reap the Wind for its reissue in 2002. "I couldn't resist tightening and changing the climax to correspond with my changed ideas on plot structure but the story is basically the same," she explained in a Q&A on her publisher's web site.

Many of her early novels were written for the Loveswept series from Bantam Books; bestselling authors Sandra Brown and Kay Hooper also wrote for the series.

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Read an Excerpt


Rock Bay Harbor, Maine

Eight Months Later

"She’s beautiful, isn’t she?" Conner parked the van on the dock and leaned back in his seat with a sigh of contentment. "She looks like a panther. Sleek, graceful, and magnificently lethal."

"My God, you’re waxing poetic." Hannah chuckled and shook her head as she jumped out of the van. "It’s a machine, Conner. A submarine. And she’s beautiful only in the way a finely constructed machine is beautiful. It was designed and built by man. It’s not as if it’s alive."

"You have no soul." Conner got out of the van and moved eagerly toward the edge of the pier. "Do you think Michelangelo’s David has no beauty because it was carved from stone? This is the same thing."

"You always say that." She followed her brother to the edge of the pier and gazed appraisingly at the black submarine. But she could see why Conner was bubbling with enthusiasm. There was something sleek and elegant about all submarines and this Oscar II was no exception although the hull showed every one of its twenty-two years Offcially named Kulyenchikov, the twin-reactor nuclear sub was dubbed Silent Thunder by its builders in the Severodvinsk shipyard, and the workers’ name stuck. An appropriate moniker, Hannah thought. The Silent Thunder’s dark, massive hull seemed to devour all light around it. At more than five hundred feet in length, it was one of the largest submarines in the world.

She glanced back at Conner. "You even thought that submersible I designed for the Titanic expedition was beautiful, and it looked like a goggle-eyed frog."

"Frogs can be beautiful." He made a face. "Well, they can be interesting-looking. Did I really say it was beautiful?"

She nodded. "But you were drunk at the time. It was the night we had the party at that bar in Halifax when the expedition was over. You were going home to Cathy and the kids, and you thought everything was beautiful."

"That was the longest time I ever had to be away from them. You had too many damn problems with that submersible."

"But interesting problems. And it performed well in the end."

He lifted a brow. "And that was all that was important to you. All the romance and excitement of the greatest expedition of the century, and you were only concerned with how efficiently your machine worked."

"You can have all the excitement." She took a step closer to the sub. "Satisfaction is enough for me. I did a good job, and it made it possible for all you dreamers to indulge yourselves to your hearts’ content."

"Well, thank God this job won’t be as all-consuming. Cathy told me she wanted me home in two weeks, or she was filing for divorce."

"Fat chance." Cathy was as practical as Conner was idealistic, and after ten years of marriage it had become second nature to her to act as her husband’s guardian as well as his lover. Since Cathy had been a high-powered and very successful aide to Congressman George Preston before the birth of their son, the transition was entirely natural. "But the job shouldn’t take more than a couple weeks. All I’m being paid for is doing a second schematic of the sub, checking it out for possible hazards, and suggesting a few tourist-friendly modifications before the museum opens it for exhibition. That’s the only reason I took the job. I needed a filler while I waited for them to be ready for me on the Marinth site."

"Oh, no, you couldn’t just sit back and rest for a little while. I’m surprised they didn’t do that check before they sailed it into this harbor. After all, it’s a nuclear submarine."

"The government did check it out for weapons and contamination last year when they discovered it hidden in that bay in Finland."

"That’s another weirdo. Why would the Russians want to hide this particular sub?"

"They say they didn’t, that they merely lost track of it during the political upheaval when the Soviet Union was breaking apart." She shrugged. "But the State Department thinks they’re giving us the usual bullshit. The Russians still don’t tell us anything they can keep to themselves. The scuttlebutt is that some Russian bureaucrat pocketed the money that had been appropriated for its dismantling. He paid off the shipyard director in Finland to hide it among the dozens of other ships and subs that the Russian Navy has there awaiting deactivation."

"There are that many?"

She nodded. "It’s expensive to scrap a submarine, especially if there are nuclear materials involved. Anyway, Bradworth says they’ve been very cooperative since the Finns discovered it."


"Dan Bradworth, he’s the State Department liaison who negotiated with the Russians for the purchase of the sub for the Maritime Museum. Though not that much negotiation was necessary. Russia is so strapped for cash, they gave the museum a bargain. But the museum didn’t want to take any chances on surprises when they brought it here to set up the exhibit. That’s why Bradworth tapped us for the job."

"Tapped you," he corrected. "You’re the expert. You know it was the Ariel that got you the job."

She shrugged. "Maybe." Four years before, she’d designed a new Orca-class U.S. Navy submarine called Ariel, and it had marked a bold departure from what had come before. Nuclear-powered submarines had changed little in their first half century of use, and her innovative concepts brought her much attention among naval buffs and marine architects. Although the Orca program was ultimately shelved due to bud get cuts, the classified plans found their way into naval magazines and Web sites, where The Submarine That Never Was and its young creator had taken on a peculiar mystique. Whenever Hannah met someone in her profession, the Ariel was one of the first topics of conversation.

"No maybe. You’re the real star here, and you know it," Conner said. "I just go along for the ride."

"That’s not true." She frowned. "You’re very good at your job. I wouldn’t know what to do without you."

"Hey, I didn’t mean to make you feel guilty. I like being your gofer. Where else would I get paid for traveling all over the world and accepting your abuse?" His smile faded when she still looked troubled. "Stop it, Hannah. Do you think I would have worked with you all these years if I hadn’t wanted to do it? I love you, but I’m not that self-sacrificing. I’ve always known you were the smart one in the family. Not only are you a mathematical and mechanical whiz, but you have that quirky memory. I knew from the minute you took one glance and quoted my Boy Scout manual from cover to cover that I was going to be trailing behind you."

"I didn’t mean to make you feel—I was just a kid trying to be a smart aleck. You were always making fun of me. It’s what brothers do. I guess I wanted you to think I was special."

"And you were special," he said gently. "And I could see it wasn’t easy for you. I saw how the other kids teased you. That’s why I stopped doing it myself. Being different is always hard. A lot of jealousy. A lot of misunderstanding. I never wanted that burden. I’m no Einstein, but that’s okay. I like what I do, and I like who I am." He grinned. "And thank God Cathy likes who I am, too."

She cleared her throat, and said gruffly, "She’d better. You’re kind of special."

"Not ‘kind of Absolutely."

"And you are smart."

He chuckled. "I have horse sense, but there’s no brilliance lurking in my noggin. I wouldn’t want it. It would be too uncomfortable." He gave her a sly glance. "And it might prevent me from enjoying the finer things in life. Look at you. You can’t even enjoy the beauty of this submarine. It’s a true work of art."

"It was built to kill, Conner. At the time it was in action it was a state-of-the-art nuclear submarine."

"Or to keep killing from happening. It’s all how you look at it. Silent Thunder was built during the Cold War. The Russians were just as afraid of our doing a first strike as we were of them."

"Now you’re waxing philosophic about the Cold War?"

"Sure, why not?" His smile faded as his gaze returned to the submarine. "She’s beautiful, but it’s going to be strange working on her."


"She’s an Oscar II. Ever since I watched the TV coverage of the deaths of those Russian sailors on the Kursk, I can’t think of Oscar II without remembering them. It’s like they’re all . . . ghost ships. It makes me sad."

"Not me. It makes me angry." Her lips tightened. "I offered my services to the Russian government to find a way to get those sailors out of that sub, and they were too proud to let me do it."

"I remember. At the time you were so mad you were ready to start World War III."

"They let them die. They didn’t do enough. God, I hate politicians. How do you think those sailors felt, trapped and knowing they were going to die?"

"Easy," Conner said. "It’s over, Hannah. You did all you could. It wasn’t your failure."

"Yes, it was. It was everyone’s failure. We should have ignored all that international diplomacy bullshit and gone in and saved them. I wouldn’t make that mistake again. They’d have to shoot me out of the water to keep me from trying a rescue."

He gave a low whistle. "All that passion. I seem to have stirred you up a bit. Or maybe you’re feeling a little of the same creepiness I am about this submarine."

"Don’t be ridiculous."

"What do we know about the crew?"

"Not much yet. Bradworth obtained a complete dossier on them for the museum from the Russians, but I haven’t seen it. He’s also supposed to give me the complete documentation of the sub from the time it was discovered in Finland until it was sailed into this harbor."

"Then how do you know I’m being ridiculous?"

"Ghost ships?" She stared at him incredulously. "You’ve got to be kidding. It’s just an old sub."

"But maybe it’s sending out vibes." He lowered his voice melodramatically. "Concentrate. Do you feel them, Hannah?"

A sudden chill went through her. What the hell? It had to be suggestion, and she’d be damned if she’d let Conner know he’d gotten to her. "I’m too busy concentrating on keeping myself from calling out the booby hatch brigade for you."

He threw back his head and laughed. "I almost had you. I could see it."

"You did not. I’m not that gullible."

"But you seem to be in an uncommonly sensitive mood. It doesn’t happen that often, and I thought I’d get you while the getting was good."

"Uncommonly sensitive? I am sensitive, you bastard."

"And so delicate in expressing it. Forgive me for doubting you, but you—Ouch."

"Dammit, I’ll show you delicate." She punched him again in the arm. "First, you make me feel guilty, and then you tell me I’m a callous bitch."

"I didn’t actually say it." He laughed as he backed away from her. "And you shouldn’t object if I did. You have to admit that it’s not your gentler side that fills you with pride. You’re definitely a no-nonsense woman, Hannah. I’m surprised you took offense."

She was a little surprised too. From the time she was ten years old she had known what she wanted of her life. Machines had always fascinated her, and the sea had called her with a power that couldn’t be denied.

Every college break she had spent on a ship, working and perfecting her knowledge and skills. Even after she had graduated with honors, it still hadn’t been an easy road. She had fought her way up the ladder in a man’s world by her in dependence and tough-mindedness. It was odd that little remark by Conner had triggered a sudden rush of guilt. Or maybe not so odd. It could be that she had been worrying about Conner on a subconscious level for a long time. "You know, if you ever want to leave me and get a job in Boston closer to Cathy and the kids, it will be okay with me." She was lying. It wouldn’t be okay. They’d been together too long. As children they’d had the usual sibling rivalries, but that had passed, and they’d grown closer and closer over the years. From the time she had brought him on board on her first in dependent job, he had been her anchor and her friend as well as her brother. She’d be miserably lonely without him.

He grinned mischievously. "I’d consider it, but I’d hate to wreck your career. We both know I’m the only one who’d put up with you. One of my biggest career assets is my ability to smooth down all the assholes you refuse to tolerate. What I lack in brains I make up for in social skills. That’s why we’re such a good team."

She opened her mouth to defend herself, then closed it again. "Come on, we’re supposed to meet Bradworth at the bed-and-breakfast in an hour." She turned away and started back up the pier. "But you’re right, I certainly don’t know what I’d do without you."

"My, my, sensitivity again? I was expecting you to give me a verbal knockout punch. What’s gotten into you?"

She smiled at him over her shoulder. "Maybe you’re rubbing off on me. Next, I’ll be comparing that damn sub to a sunset or a tropical flower." She glanced at the submarine lying still and dark in the water like a sleek shark waiting to attack its prey. Another chill went through her, and she quickly looked away. "But somehow I don’t think so."

Bradworth rocked slowly back and forth in the rocking chair on the porch of Richardson’s Bed-and-Breakfast, his gaze on the glimpse of sea he could see in the distance. It was nice here, he thought wistfully. Quiet, pleasant, ocean views that made him remember the house near Myrtle Beach where he’d grown up.

Jesus, he must be getting old if he was already starting to think of the good old days. Nah, the juices were still flowing if he could feel that stir of lust as he watched Hannah Bryson and her brother walk up the street toward him. At least, he assumed it was her brother, Conner. He’d never been introduced to him and had only briefly met Hannah two weeks ago when he and Randolph, the public relations director for the museum, had gone to her apartment in Boston to offer her the job. They didn’t look much alike. Conner Bryson was smaller, built with a lean, wiry muscularity, and his tightly curled dark hair and triangular face gave him a puckish appearance. There was nothing puckish about Hannah. Her features were strong, with high cheekbones, deep-set blue eyes, and chestnut hair that curled wildly and incongruously around that riveting face. According to her dossier she was thirty-five, but she looked younger. No, that wasn’t quite right. She was one of those women who appeared ageless. She was probably five-foot-nine or -ten with a strong, slim body, long legs, and great shoulders. God, he loved women with straight, broad shoulders. Tits and ass were all very well, but there was something more subtly challenging in the turn-on of those smooth, broad shoulders and that bold carriage. It made a man want to meet that challenge in the most basic sexual way.

Hell, Hannah Bryson was probably going to be a challenge in more ways than the physical. She was exceptionally intelligent. He had recently watched a two-year-old National Geographic special in which Hannah had described her childhood obsession with scuba diving, and her ever-increasing desire to go farther and deeper than her tanks could ever take her. Before she’d even graduated from college, she had made a name for herself with a series of radical yet extremely workable sub designs that instantly catapulted her to the forefront of the traditionally male-dominated profession of marine architecture. She possessed an amazing photographic memory that gave her instant mental access to every sub ever designed, and her skill and creativity enabled her to improve on many of them.

Bradworth ruefully shook his head. Dammit, he would have preferred to have someone a hell of a lot less sharp, but he’d been forced to accept her. He just hoped he could get her through this and—

His phone rang, and he picked up. "Bradworth."

"Is she there?"

He tensed. "Dammit, Kirov, I told you I’d call you after I spoke to her. Stop pressuring me."

"Is she there?"

"She’s walking down the street toward me right now."

"She took her time. They were down at the pier looking at the sub an hour ago."

"And you were there watching her. I told you to stay away from that damn sub, Kirov."

"And I told you to go to hell. I’ll do what I please." He paused. "I wasn’t the only one watching her. There

Excerpted from Silent Thunder by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen.
Copyright 2008 by Johansen Publishing LLLP.
Published in July 2008 by St. Martin’s Press.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 49 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 49 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 10, 2012

    This book was as good as all of her other books. I've enjoyed r

    This book was as good as all of her other books. I've enjoyed reading all of the collaborative books with Roy Johanson. It grabs you at the beginning and is hard to put down. I love the characters that are woven in from book to book., The
    dolphins are back in this book. Great Read!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 10, 2013

    This book was really great!!!!! It grabbed my attention and kept

    This book was really great!!!!! It grabbed my attention and kept me reading until It was finished. LOVED IT!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2013

    Hell o u here yet

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2014

    Enjoyed it.

    The book was a good read. From the start it got me reading and not wanting to stop. I can't wait to get more from Iris Johansen.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2013


    Is this the right book?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2011


    This mom and son duo need to make a series of the relationship that grows between the scientist and the former sub captain. And, they need to reach their common goal of getting the villian(s) who killed his wife and friends, as well as her brother.

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  • Posted October 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderful read

    This was an absolutely wonderful read. It was fast paced, had good action, a little romantic tension, and a very good story line. I loved it. They have a sequel to this book that I can't wait to get my hands on. I'm very glad my in-laws gave me this book to read.

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  • Posted February 2, 2011

    Recommended Read

    I really enjoyed reading this book. I was quickly drawn into the story and hated to put it down. Big fan of Iris Johansen's suspense novels and was eager to read one co-authored with her son; it was a seamless read. Look forward to how they will follow this story.

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  • Posted April 8, 2010

    Enjoyed the collaboration between mother and son

    Good read. Characters are believable, strong but sensitive and VERY capable.

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  • Posted March 11, 2010

    Great Story

    I have really enjoyed this book, I have loved all of Johansens books even the ones written with her son . This book gives a great story line and plot.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2010

    Loved it

    I have read all of her suspense books and I really liked the different feel of this book. The detail surrounding the submarines and their creation and maintenance was fascinating. I appreciated her research to make it accurate, entertaining, and somewhat enlightening.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2009

    Fast Paced!

    Kept my interest from start to finish. Flowed well for a co-authored novel. Wanted to read more. You will enjoy it!

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  • Posted September 21, 2009

    Silent Thunder

    Excellent read - I couldn't put it down. I can't wait for their next book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Good Book - Good Story Line - Strong Characters

    Iris Johansen is one of my favorite authors. I have read all of her book. I love her writting stye and her characters are always strong. The plot was very different. Although this was not one of my favorite it is still worth the read. I would recommend it.

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  • Posted August 15, 2009

    Silent Thunder

    Love the combo of mother and son as authors. Good story. Great read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2009

    Silent Thunder

    Different theme from her usual writing but was a very good book.

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  • Posted April 16, 2009


    I found this book to very entertaining and a light read. It kept you on the edge of your seat wondering what was going to happen next. It was one of those books you just didn't want to put down but finish it from cover to cover.

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  • Posted April 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Silent But Deadly

    In this first thriller by both Iris and her son, Roy, the authors try to tag team an espionage/adventure story - with great success. Iris Johansen is best when she focuses on the fast paced excitement of her novels and this one showcases that talent to the extreme. Her dialogue is sometimes "common", but in the larger scheme of things, it all makes for a quick thrill. Just read the inide jacket to get the initial story plot, but look to spend several hours enjoying the action and adventure surrounding Hannah and Ivanov (?) as they try to uncover the truth behind her brother's death while on the SILENT THUNDER; a Russian submarine. Roy's knowledge of espionage gives a stronger background to Iris' thunderous plot speed. It is hard to ever be critical of Johansen's novels because I read them to be entertained, not necessarily to hear speldidly literary dialogue or sentence structure. She is a huge fav of mine and i have never read one I did not like. I look forward to reading their next tag team adventure, STORM CYCLE out this July. Give this one a try on the beach or a lazy summer day. Like James Bond, we enjoy the adventure, speed and silliness of the stories and not with the realism of the tale. Who cares about the truth; to be entertained is to be content.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2009


    I loved this book and could not put it down. Although I admit I would have liked to see a little more romantic action between Hannah and Kirov, it left me hungering for more of them!! True Johansen fashion!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2008

    Not up to Iris Johansen Standards

    This book was very disappointing. I usually can¿t put down one of Johansen¿s books but this had a completely different feel. I kept waiting for the normal suspense and intrigue and it never came.

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