Iris Johansen's second installment in her trilogy, following EVE, explores the relationship between Eve Duncan and her longtime lover and friend, Joe Quinn. The first book ended with former Navy Seal Quinn badly wounded and in the hospital. In QUINN, Eve remains by his side, waiting impatiently for him to show signs of recovery. She takes solace in the knowledge that her adopted daughter, Jane, and her dear friend, Catherine Ling, will support her throughout the ordeal. Quinn's injuries stem from trying to capture the possible kidnapper-killer of Eve's daughter, Bonnie. Quinn has not known Bonnie, but he now visualizes images of the child, much like those that find their way into Eve's dreams.
"If Catherine believes that Gallo is innocent of Bonnie's murder, can she prove it?"
Complicating Quinn's recovery is the fact that Bonnie's biological father, John Gallo, thought to be long dead, is very much alive. His presence in Atlanta at the time of Bonnie's disappearance lends real possibility to the notion that he may have killed his own daughter. Gallo's history with Eve, a rapid passionate affair that led to her pregnancy, further tangles the relationship between her and her present soul mate. Gallo, a victim of North Korean imprisonment and torture, is not even certain of his own possible play in Bonnie's murder, as portions of his past draw memory blanks. While Quinn remains hospitalized and semi-comatose, Eve deals with her first love, Gallo. His reappearance opens a previously closed book.
Catherine Ling, long indebted to Eve for the recovery of her own son after a brutal kidnapping, seeks to repay the favor. Catherine's CIA background and connections are put to the test when she sets out to track down Gallo and bring him to probable justice. Her quest takes her to remote wild land that Gallo owns in the mountains. But the hunter soon becomes the hunted in an improbable turn of events. Much of the story now turns to a new relationship forming between Catherine and Gallo. If Catherine believes that Gallo is innocent of Bonnie's murder, can she prove it? Her deep concern for Eve and Quinn is further tested while she struggles with the sexuality that Gallo evokes. Meanwhile, Quinn recovers and is bent on taking up the trail that will lead to answers about Bonnie.
Much of QUINN uncovers the back story behind Quinn and Eve's relationship. FBI Special Agent Joe Quinn traveled to Atlanta, GA, assigned to a high-profile stolen child case. Little did he know where this trip would take him, both emotionally and professionally. Tall, slim Eve Duncan greeted him at her door with a chill that set him back. He was accustomed to welcomes from distraught parents, not cold detachment. Eve's disgust at the lack of action by law enforcement in Bonnie's case sliced the air between them. Quinn allowed his matter-of-fact, on-the-job presence to be swamped by his gut reaction to this woman. He offered friendship as well as a promise to stand by her through the investigation. In short, Quinn was mesmerized by Eve and her needs.
Later, when Gallo enters the picture, Quinn finds himself fighting jealousy. Catherine learns that Gallo has killed the prime suspect in Bonnie's disappearance, Paul Black, who told Eve that Gallo had murdered Bonnie. Suffering from schizophrenia and depression due to his Korean imprisonment, Gallo cannot deny it. He has had years of delusions, blackouts and paranoia that have warped his memory. But he, like Quinn and Eve, remembers periods in prison when a little blonde girl had appeared to him, guiding him through the trauma.
Catherine, torn between an emotional attachment to Gallo and her loyalty to Eve, vows to sort truth from fiction. Quinn's resolve to find Bonnie's killer buoys him up after the long stretch in the hospital. The image he's seen of the little girl has vanished. Now he sees her as a piece of the puzzle to heal his wounds. With Eve, he searches for Catherine in her quest for the man or monster, Gallo. Catherine's snooping opens a door to Gallo's history in the Army Special Forces. Details of his missions, known only to immediate superiors, become pieces of the web to untangle. Was Bonnie's kidnapping designed to control a volatile agent?
I can barely wait for the final book in the trilogy, BONNIE. Although this current one is Quinn's story, the Catherine/Gallo subplots threaten us with forgetting Quinn. The loose ends will tie together, as Johansen skillfully holds the readers' attention until the story's conclusion. Quinn makes for a more sympathetic detective than the original FBI agent who walks into Eve's life. Despite her girlhood involvement with Gallo, Quinn is here to stay.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on November 3, 2011