Study Guide

A Dangerous Silence

by Catherine Palmer

A Dangerous Silence Summary

Overview (Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Catherine Palmer tells the story of A Dangerous Silence through four point-of-view characters. At the beginning of the novel, Ed Morgan is working alone on his Kansas farm when he has a disabling accident. His daughter, Dr. Marah Morgan, is working on the staff of a pediatric clinic in St. Louis at the time. Dr. Milton Gregory closes his remote Wyoming laboratory and announces that he and a few associates will be relocating to Kansas. Finally, Judd Hunter is wrapping up a case for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in which he infiltrated a group conspiring to use fertilizer to blow up government buildings.

After losing two burn patients under mysterious circumstances, Marah agrees to her father’s demand to come home and take over the farm. Her mother has been dead for many years, and her three sisters live even farther from Kansas than she does. She has no brothers, for which Ed blamed her mother and punished his daughters by withholding his love. Marah has no intention of moving home permanently, however. She plans to get Ed admitted to a retirement community and sell the farm. Although she is a devout Christian, she observes the letter, but not the spirit, of the commandment “Honor thy father.”

Gregory and two of his associates arrive at the farm and pose as archaeologists for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In exchange for doing some work around the farm, they get permission to live in Ed’s bunkhouse while they conduct a search for an Osage village known to have existed somewhere on Ed’s property. In the bunkhouse, they set up a laboratory.

When Marah finally arrives, her first project is to clean up and paint the house. She renews her acquaintance with one of the neighbors and meets Pearl (Perky), their seven-year-old daughter, a bright, precocious child whose actions drive much of the plot. When Judd arrives, he asks Marah for a job, and she hires him. His latest assignment is to infiltrate Gregory’s team.

When a tornado passes over the farm, Marah takes refuge in the cellar, only to find an intruder there. The...

(The entire section is 855 words.)

A Dangerous Silence Bibliography (Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Duncan, Melanie. Review of A Dangerous Silence. Library Journal 126, no. 6 (April 1, 2001). Emphasizes Marah’s relationships with the other characters in the novel.

Palmer, Catherine. The Happy Room. Waterville, Maine: Thorndike Press, 2002. The daughter of missionaries, Palmer uses her upbringing as background material for this novel.

Palmer, Catherine. Sweet Violet. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 2005. Palmer cites the title character as her most autobiographical.

Zaleski, Jeff. Review of A Dangerous Silence. Publishers Weekly 248, no. 11 (March 12, 2001). Points out that the action is character-driven and that Palmer does not preach but integrates her Christian beliefs into the story.