Iris and Roy Johansen’s new novel, SIGHT UNSEEN, draws readers along for a wild ride of sleuthing with Kendra Michaels, the formerly blind music therapist. An experimental surgery has restored her sight, but she maintains the acute sensory perceptions she had honed while sightless. Following a period of untamed exhilaration and exploration after her surgery, Kendra focuses on helping others through music therapy. Anxious to see her happily married, Kendra’s mother, Diane, arranges a blind coffee date with a teacher/colleague of hers. Little does Dean Halley know that before the evening is over, he will accompany Kendra to a traffic accident that she identifies as a murder scene, hoping to preserve the evidence for homicide detectives.
When the body count rises, with additional crimes, the case files hold striking similarities to those from the past when a blind but acutely sensitive Kendra worked the cases along with detectives to bring maniacal serial killer Eric Colby to justice. Colby now sits in San Quentin Prison, awaiting execution in a matter of days.
"Iris Johansen and her son, Roy, weave a brilliant story, running various leads to dead ends, others to further trails of evidence. The seamless, moving plot captured my interest until the final dot."
The following day, Kendra meets with a little girl and her mother, Danica Beale, for a therapy session but is rudely interrupted by Adam Lynch, a former FBI agent who is now working freelance for other U.S. intelligence agencies. Lynch relates that the traffic case, with its four victims, has been taken over by the FBI, following her on-scene analysis. Multiple murders made to appear accidental follow the patterns used by several serial killers Kendra has brought to justice. Now the FBI sends Lynch to convince her to work with them again because of her expertise with the type of perpetrator they suspect. Unconvinced, she turns the handsome agent down but reluctantly accepts an envelope with case details for perusal.
Seeking advice from best friend Olivia Moore, Kendra opens the envelope and reads its contents. Shocked, she calls Lynch and sets up a meeting with FBI Special Agent Michael Griffin and his team. Lynch picks her up, and the wild ride through the investigation begins. It becomes apparent that a serial killer named Myatt exists and may prove as demoniacal as his mentor, Eric Colby, soon to die in prison. Exact duplications of the cruel victimizations carried out by Colby now become new cases. Even Colby’s DNA is found on one female victim. A diabolical plot seems to be in motion that ultimately will lead to Kendra’s death.
Iris Johansen and her son, Roy, weave a brilliant story, running various leads to dead ends, others to further trails of evidence. The seamless, moving plot captured my interest until the final dot. Occasional references to characters from previous books, such as Eve Duncan, are happy reminders of much-enjoyed Johansen stories.
SIGHT UNSEEN is a title well chosen. The peaks and valleys that Kendra experience while working with the FBI team exhibit her humanly emotional involvement. About the time she seems overwhelmed by reminders of past horrors, she painfully regroups and muscles up to the new challenges she must face. Although Myatt copies Colby’s diabolical schemes, he brings a new terror, a personal revenge element to the game. Kendra’s former cases are duplicated, but now nearly each victim has a personal or professional relationship to her. Will Olivia or her mother fall victim to Myatt’s evil plans? Will Kendra herself survive? And what of Myatt and Colby? Questions are answered, but plot twists and turns make for an ingenious literary ride.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on August 8, 2014