BONNIE is the final installment in Iris Johansen’s trilogy about Eve Duncan’s kidnapped seven-year-old daughter. Although it’s not necessary to have read the first two volumes, EVE and QUINN, one’s reading enjoyment would be enhanced from the earlier characterizations. The back story is helpful, but rich details from these previous titles fill in any gaps.
"BONNIE is a logical conclusion to this trilogy... A twist near the end brings satisfaction to readers, not to mention to Eve Duncan herself."
This latest novel centers on the special relationship between Eve and her illegitimate daughter. Working and taking classes in order to better her financial security, Eve harbors guilt over her life as a single mother. John Gallo, Bonnie’s soldier father, has been reported killed in action, and Eve’s mother, Sandra, has stepped up to help raise her darling grandchild. On that fateful day, Bonnie has worn her favorite Bugs Bunny t-shirt to the school picnic in the park. When she disappears while running off to the ice cream stand for a treat, Eve’s nightmare has begun.
While the trail for Bonnie’s kidnapper turns cold, Eve finds love with Joe Quinn, the detective who has stood by her in the years of anguish following Bonnie’s disappearance. In BONNIE, Gallo returns from detention in a North Korean prison camp where he reportedly died. He has been severely tortured and suffers the mental lapses, hallucinations and physical effects of his imprisonment. Like Eve and Quinn, he, too, reports seeing and conversing with the kidnapped little girl. He insists that contact with her kept him from insanity during his torture. But his name has been linked to her disappearance when he was released from captivity. Paul Black, a hit man hired by the crooked CIA twosome who had been responsible for Gallo’s capture, implicated Gallo in his daughter’s murder.
The twists become more tortuous when Catherine Ling joins Eve and Quinn in the search for Bonnie’s killer. Eve had aided Ling in recovering her own young son several years earlier from a kidnapping. Ling, a skilled operative, feels compelled to solve this crime, stepping aside from a South American job that Venable, her boss, wants her to take. He offers help to speed up the hunt for Bonnie’s killer if it will free her for his job. Meanwhile, Gallo has returned, tormented that in a blackout he may have killed Bonnie. Together with Ling, Eve and Quinn, he is determined to figure it all out. Quinn doubts Gallo’s integrity, blaming him for the crime, but Eve and Ling cast aside their own misgivings and agree to work with him. Tension between the seekers rises during their quest.
Yet another complication enters the story when Gallo’s uncle, Ted Danner, reappears as a person of interest to track down. Danner has been the only real family Gallo has known, meeting Eve years before when Bonnie was a baby and Gallo was overseas. However, Danner’s personal history is filled with drug addiction due to painkillers, psychiatric hospitalization with consequent treatment and disappearance. Eve and her trio search for Danner and answers he may have to the puzzle. They locate a former psychiatrist, a priest and a puzzling young boy, all or none of whom may have the answers they seek.
Johansen’s plot twists keep the story moving toward its eventual conclusion. In italics, she reveals the various encounters many of the characters have with the dead child. Ling is the lone doubter when Eve, Quinn, Gallo and others describe seeing and talking to Bonnie’s spirit. In each sighting, Bonnie wears the Bugs Bunny t-shirt she had on the day she disappeared. She speaks of being unafraid, ready to enter the “other” side but unwilling to leave without leading her family to their own destinies. Though a bit overdone, I was compelled by these paranormal conversations.
BONNIE is a logical conclusion to this trilogy. Despite some repetition for the sake of clarity, the book reads quickly and holds your attention. A twist near the end brings satisfaction to readers, not to mention to Eve Duncan herself.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on November 3, 2011