EVE by Iris Johansen is the first installment in a trilogy meant to uncover the secrets of her heroine's daughter's disappearance. In previous novels, Eve Duncan is consistently troubled by Bonnie's loss. She has thrown herself into reconstructive forensics, spending long hours restructuring the skulls of victims who may have suffered similar fates as her daughter. She seeks consolation in helping law enforcement solve horrendous crimes against other children.
Eve has recently worked on a case for her friend, CIA agent Catherine Ling. In return, Catherine used the means at her disposal in the Agency to bring awareness to Bonnie's disappearance, at age seven, many years before. Now, Catherine has disturbing news for Eve, news that will turn her life inside out. But Catherine fears that Eve's relationship with Joe Quinn will suffer as a result.
Catherine astonishes Eve by telling her that she believes Bonnie's abductor and killer is the man whose name does not appear on the child's birth certificate: John Gallo. Memories of nearly forgotten teen years flood Eve's mind. We see Eve sorting her emotions as a young girl, impetuous when it comes to sexual exploration. The mature Eve of Johansen's later novels is emotional, but not with the raw tendencies that the young Eve exudes.
At 16, Eve lived with her mother, a junkie named Sandra, in the poorest of housing projects in Atlanta, GA. She worked part-time at Mac's Diner and longed to go to college and leave her sorry life behind. One day, when Eve was leaving for work, she heard a scream behind her. Rosa, a teenaged mother who lived in her building, was being pestered by two young guys dangling her year-old son in the air. Eve flailed at the thugs, but they turned their mania on her, beating her with no mercy.
A strong arm intervened, breaking the bones of Eve's assailants. Eve became fascinated by her rescuer, John Gallo, a dark-haired young man with movie-star looks. Eventually, the two surrendered to their lust. From making love at the edge of a reservoir to motel rooms, their trysts led to Eve becoming pregnant, just after Gallo left for basic training in the Army. She was determined to raise the child herself and to not allow him back into her life. After Bonnie was born, Gallo's remains were discovered in an inlet off the coast of North Korea, shortly after he had arrived there.
Now, Catherine has discovered facts that prove Gallo was captured by the North Koreans and imprisoned. Released after six years, he was in Atlanta the same day Bonnie was kidnapped. Having thought for years that Bonnie's killer was a monster, this news upends Eve. She must resolve Bonnie's disappearance now more than ever before. Quinn --- as her steadfast love, friend and confidant --- sits on the outer edge of her emotion. She can barely face the reality herself, much less share it with Quinn.
Iris Johansen weaves the remainder of this intriguing story around Eve's relationships with Gallo and Quinn --- and how she must balance the two in her mind. The mystery unravels, and the facts concerning Gallo unfold. Did this former lover kill his own daughter? Did another man take advantage of his vulnerability to frame him? The final chapter leads into the setup for the second book in the trilogy, QUINN, which, thankfully, will be released in July of this year.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on November 14, 2011