I read Iris Johansen’s STORM CYCLE several months ago, so
when the opportunity to review this one popped up, I took it. While
thrillers and crime fiction are not part of my regular reading, I
do enjoy a good one once in a while, and Johansen is a writer I
feel I can turn to.
Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan is preparing for her latest
reconstruction --- a murdered young girl. With memories of her dead
daughter, Bonnie, swirling in her head, she knows it will be a
rough case emotionally but believes she can help the child and her
family find peace. At the start of the case, she gets a call from a
CIA operative she has worked with in the past, Venable, who wants
her to do him a favor. She declines but soon after finds herself
playing host to Catherine Ling.
Catherine is an agent of Venable’s and a woman tormented
by the loss of her son. She asks Venable to convince Eve to help
her, and when Eve refuses, she decides to tell her about Luke. Her
story breaks Eve’s heart, and before she knows what
she’s agreed to, Eve tells Catherine that she will do the age
progression for her. Eve will never be able to bring back Bonnie
but wants to help Catherine in any way she can. Even if the only
help she can reasonably provide is giving her a picture of her son
at his current age. Catherine believes Luke is alive but knows that
the madman who kidnapped him when he was only two may have killed
him. Her unwavering belief that he may still be living is what
convinces Eve to help her.
What looks like a few days of trying and emotional work turns
out to be much more complicated when the man who kidnapped
Catherine’s son gets Eve involved. Without knowing what
horrors await them, Catherine and Eve leave for Russia, and with a
little help from Eve’s friend and lover, Joe Quinn, and some
CIA assistance, they set out to find Luke.
There is one thing I always remind myself when reading a book
like this one --- suspension of disbelief. So much happens in such
a short period, and most of the time particulars are left out of
the picture. And when I start to think about how people manage to
cross international borders without the aid of things like
passports, I get bothered. Johansen makes you forget about all of
this with her story. In fact, she doesn’t even give you much
time to think; you’ll be reminding yourself to breathe
because her characters and the story move so fast with a million
twists and turns.
I can see why people are such fans of Eve Duncan. She is a
flawed woman with so much emotional baggage that you wonder how she
makes it through the day. But that’s also what makes her
interesting. Besides her work, there is nothing clinical about her,
and you like her for those reasons. The story here is heartbreaking
--- although I can’t imagine how tales of missing children
couldn’t be --- and that’s what keeps you riveted.
Catherine is a high-strung character who is very intense.
She’s not likable, but Eve makes her quest for her son very
human, and when she drops the facade she put in place to help her
deal with finding Luke, she becomes much more relatable.
Not wanting to ruin the ending, I won’t say much more than
this: fans will be left with eager anticipation for the next
installment as this one leaves off with a bit of a cliffhanger.
CHASING THE NIGHT is only my second Johansen book and first foray
into the Eve Duncan series, but even I want to know how the story
Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski on December 26, 2010