Iris Johansen cranks out the latest story in her Eve Duncan series, which answers the questions surrounding Eve’s kidnapping and imprisonment by psychopath James Doane. In TAKING EVE and HUNTING EVE, Doane takes Eve from her quiet lakeside retreat, forcing her to reconstruct the burned-out skull of his dead son, Kevin. The chase is on to locate and rescue her. Although the hunt brings her lifetime partner, Joe Quinn, close to securing her, events take a nasty turn when Doane blows up a Colorado mining town saloon, with Eve and himself inside.
SILENCING EVE begins at the Georgia lakeside cottage where multitudes of well-wishers gather to celebrate Eve’s life and mourn her death. Her adopted daughter, Jane MacGuire, and Quinn are inconsolable, even with the support of Eve’s closest friends and admirers. Notably, CIA agents Catherine Ling and Venable attend the memorial service. Ling’s anger at her boss sends her to the steaming point because Venable left her out of the search for Eve, sending her on an assignment out of the country. At the cottage, she looks for answers but is careful not to offend the immediate family members.
"Jane’s perseverance and personal growth from her efforts leave Johansen fans with an emotional lift.... Johansen will need a new blockbuster to top SILENCING EVE."
Margaret Douglas and Kendra Michaels, both protective of Jane, who is still recovering from a bullet wound, open up to Ling. Along with Quinn, they believe that Doane staged the explosion in Colorado, leaving behind charred body parts not readily identifiable. They think that his sinister plan involves luring contract killer Lee Zander to his hideout. There, Doane will kill Eve in front of Zander to see him suffer and then will finish him off. Zander is believed to be Eve’s biological father but also the man who killed Doane’s serial murderer son, who was responsible for the mutilation deaths of numerous young girls. One of Kevin’s victims is Eve’s child, Bonnie.
SILENCING EVE finalizes the events in Johansen’s previous books, leaving the reader unsatisfied as to Eve’s fate until the final pages. The novel delves into the crazed kidnapper’s mind and plan, journeys through Eve’s growth in strength when she realizes that she alone must secure her escape, and crisscrosses the country with Eve’s would-be rescuers. This is more the study of Jane and her fierce loyalty to the woman who rescued her from a grim childhood and showered her with affection. Because of her background, Jane’s inability to trust anyone but Eve has hindered her from meaningful romantic relationships.
Jane now rushes forward to rescue Eve, with help from Margaret, Kendra, and would-be suitors Seth Caleb and Mark Trevor. Both men evoke sexual responses in Jane --- Caleb’s with sheer animal and blood lust, and Trevor with an emotional depth. With Eve as her sole focus, disregarding her own physical limitations recovering from a gunshot wound, Jane relies on them all. Meanwhile, Ling relies on her CIA training to rescue Eve, whose reconstruction talents afforded her a reunion with her own son years before. She now considers Eve her close friend, to be rescued at any cost, and thinks that Doane’s obsession with Zander as Kevin’s killer will play into her scheme.
Johansen carefully weaves the puzzle pieces together by leaving each scenario open-ended, to continue further in-depth as the story unfolds. Jane’s unlikely group travels to Chicago to interview Kevin’s mother, Harriet, who has divorced Doane and abandoned her son, forging a new identity in academia. Kendra’s research into words Kevin wrote in a journal raises questions to be answered about the woman. In the process, Jane discovers deep-seated feelings beneath the surface about each of the men who profess to care for her.
Ling’s search for Zander proves fruitful, but a much more sinister plot evolves that will require help from Venable at the CIA. While undercover, Kevin had provided the CIA with valuable information about terrorist activities against the U.S. Venable believes that Kevin left the info on a mysterious disc. Unraveling the poetic nonsense in his journal will give Eve’s friends a real sense of urgency. Much more than her life and that of Zander’s may be on the line.
The race to locate Eve takes on urgency in the final chapters. The desire to rescue her but also to ward off a national catastrophe will depend on speed, cleverness, cunning and sheer unselfishness by those racing to help her. Jane’s perseverance and personal growth from her efforts leave Johansen fans with an emotional lift. Bonnie’s ghost appears throughout Eve’s journey, guiding her in previous books, and continues to be a factor here. Johansen will need a new blockbuster to top SILENCING EVE.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on November 15, 2013