In Tamney’s debut paranormal thriller, a secret group of American telepaths reunites to stop a rampage by one of their own kind.
This novel offers a fairly low-key intro to a secret, New York City–based society of people with psychic powers—although the prose skirts using the term “psychic” as well as “ESP,” “sixth sense,” and “psi,” and Tamney avoids obvious Jedi mind-tricks. “Planters” are humans born with the innate power to “plant” thoughts and urges into ordinary people’s minds, sometimes with catastrophic results. Of course, “planters” are themselves immune to the effect, although they can mentally communicate with one another, and some rare, nonpowered individuals are completely resistant “stones.” (Also, planters can only control people with whom they share a common language.) In a manner not unlike Marvel Comics’ X-Men, a benevolent Professor X–type named Bogdan Orlikski, aka Teach, seeks out and mentors incipient planters—to keep them from being discovered and exploited and to prevent them from doing harm. But now a mercenary planter known as “Sam” has been causing ordinary folk to commit bombings and start riots. Teach rallies key alumni—chiefly, sensitive Pete and two-fisted Alex—to stop the homicidal rogue before a ruthless, shadowy government organization gets to him first. Tamney, in this first installment in a planned series, spends most of his time developing his characters. However, he does craft high-octane slam-bang action scenes as well as torture scenes, which aren’t for the squeamish. (Alligators eat a lot of characters, as well.) Only at the halfway mark, though, do things really start to simmer. The plot’s archfiend is a sociopathic cipher, but the ground rules of planting are interesting on their own terms, if presented a little dryly. Although the setup promises sequels down the line, this cerebrum-stretcher can also be enjoyed as a self-contained stand-alone.
A fair mind-control yarn that reads more like a Robert Ludlum–style adventure than a paranormal romp.