Father Michael O’Shannon is the third victim found in the Atlanta Piedmont Park area with the same enigmatic symptoms. While the strange syndrome slowly ravages the comatose priest’s major organs, Damon Keane begins to gather clues. The former medical doctor turned forensic consultant barely launches into his investigations when he gets called into a grisly homicide involving four Latinos. This latest case differs from the earlier ones except for one similarity—”each died in agony with absolutely no visible signs of murder.” Keane, with the help of a friend, believes that they’ve identified both the culprit and his silent but deadly weapon. But nabbing the serial murderer turns out to be more complex than planned.
Smith spins an unsettling story in his stunning debut. Amid an equally stunning and colorful cast, Smith zeroes in on his principal character, Damon Keane. A highly intelligent and talented man with a troubled past who drifts into his own “gumshoe-detective fantasyland,” Damon represents an underdog in the cutthroat investigative realm. Of particular interest is an elusive trait Smith incorporates in his cast (including Damon), which allows for an edgy quality in his storytelling. While alternating between character scenes, Smith sprinkles in historic information on radiological warfare, such as the story about former Russian intelligence officer Alexander Litvinko who was murdered in 2006 when he ingested tea laced with a poisonous radioactive isotope.
Smith’s fictional narrative is a balanced mix of engaging dialogue and rich and often times hilarious metaphors that are woven into a flurry of unpredictable, nail biting, and clock-ticking scenarios. Although captivating from the get-go, Smith’s plot serves another purpose. Smith states in an afterword note that “the opportunity for smuggling nuclear material and using it as a weapon of terrorism today is greater than ever.” Silent Source is not only a top-of-the-line read, but also one that should be on the Silver Screen.
James Marshall Smith
Stealth Books (San Diego)