Book Review: Silent Key, Laurel Hightower

Book Review: Silent Key, Laurel Hightower

Book Review: Silent Key, Laurel Hightower

Mystery: Silent Key, Laurel Hightower


“My husband died screaming.”


That jolting sentence tosses the reader immediately into the deep end of a pool of a supernatural mystery, which began for the characters before the start of the book. Cam, a former NYPD detective, lost her husband under strange, bizarre circumstances. Crushed by a huge weight on a Manhattan street with no cause in sight. Accompanied by his mistress, a woman Cam unsurprisingly did not know about. Tony had been keeping a lot of secrets, a few of which were coming to light, making Cam realize that she really did not know her husband at all.


So she, her “brother” Dimi, and her daughter Samantha, are leaving New York for a fresh start, away from bitter memories, away from the unknown dangers that ended her husband’s life. Cam’s uncle had recently died and left her his house in Texas. Rural Texas was both geographically and culturally a long way from New York. Trading skyscrapers for an endless sky, trading trendy cafes for the town diner, trading tiny apartments for a spacious house, Cam is ready to leave the past behind her.


The past is not quite so willing to let her leave, though. Samantha continues to meet with her father–yes, her dead father–having inherited his ability to commune with the dead. Strange phenomena follow them across the country, covering their hotel room floor with salt water. And her uncle’s house seems to welcome ghosts from a mysterious vessel, speaking Russian, unable to escape a terrible fate.


Silent Key is a ham radio term, indicating that someone in the ham radio community has died. Cam’s uncle was a ham operator. His key had gone silent–but was his death from natural causes or from something more sinister? Why were these ghosts drawn to Cam? Or even worse, were they drawn to Samantha? Why were these ghostly appearances affecting her family across the country, from NYC to Texas? Why was her late husband’s mistress so desperate to speak with Cam? Why was her late husband’s ghost following her and meeting with their 5-year old daughter, telling her to keep secrets because “Mommy wouldn’t understand”?


Halloween is a time for ghost stories, a time when the boundaries between the living and the dead seem to soften. Laurel Hightower has delivered a chilling ghost story, ending it with an unsubtle hint that the story will continue.


I am typically not a great fan of horror and supernatural haunting types of stories. I will read them but I don’t seek them out. My imagination tends to go into overdrive and uses these stories to haunt my dreams. That said, I am quite glad I read this book. Cam is simultaneously kick-ass tough and achingly vulnerable, mourning her loss and raging against the one she lost, a caring and committed mother willing to leave her daughter with her “brother,” a former KGB agent with a brutal and mysterious past of his own. These are terrifically conceived characters, not completely good nor completely evil, capable of both heroic acts and of completely selfish actions. This is a ghost story with a very human cast.


Our thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things for our copy of Silent Key, provided so we could give it an honest review. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla. For other perspectives on this novel, check out the other bloggers on this tour.


Book Review: Silent Key, Laurel Hightower

Book Review: Silent Key, Laurel Hightower

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