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New York Times​ bestselling author Iris Johansen brings us to billionaire Gabe Korgan’s mansion, where rogue CIA agent Alisa Flynn is caught breaking in. In a split-second decision, she attempts to persuade this brilliant mind to join forces with her to catch their mutual enemy, a scumbag named Jorge Masenak. Most recently, this son of a local crime boss has kidnapped students at St. Eldon’s Academy, a girls' school in Morocco where the daughters of many influential people attend.

Reluctantly, Alisa and Korgan agree to work together. With Korgan’s financial and material affluence and Alisa’s espionage training, they must devise a plan to safely extract the girls while capturing the elusive Masenak. When it is revealed that one of the students has a special link to Alisa, the stakes are raised even higher.

"CHAOS is an emotional thriller that...will grab your attention from the first page and not let you go."

I absolutely loved the slow-burn development of Alisa and Korgan’s relationship. Even from their first interaction, the sexual chemistry is palpable and they clash in the most extraordinary way. Sometimes they will make some semblance of progress, only for one of them to say the wrong thing and ruin the moment. I felt so emotionally invested in them, and their exchanges will keep you on the edge of your seat. Johansen knows how to write wonderfully crafted characters and dialogue.

Let it be known that there are triggers of rape and pedophilia here. However, Johansen only employs these moments sparingly; she does not use extreme gore and violence just to get a reaction from her audience. I appreciate how she focuses on the aftermath for bystanders and victims rather than on the acts themselves. Her nuance and care when writing these scenes are respectful but still expose the ugly and wretched events.

Sasha, a horse whisperer, is a sister figure to Alisa. She is the one who was kidnapped alongside the other students. At only 15, she has faced so much hardship and pain, yet is so resilient, tenacious and inspiring. She is incredibly selfless, even in the face of extreme violence, and her relationship with animals is so tender and precious. Johansen has done a phenomenal job creating these strong female role models.

As Alisa and Korgan work together, we see them chip away at each other’s pasts. The characters’ backstories are well-thought-out and informed a lot of the interactions in the novel.

CHAOS is an emotional thriller that will take you to the deep, hidden recesses of the Szarnar Jungle. It will grab your attention from the first page and not let you go. Even for those who typically don't gravitate towards suspense novels, the yummy romance and cheeky animals will surely satisfy you. I recommend this worthy book to anyone who needs a little more excitement during quarantine.

Reviewed by Alison Lee on September 18, 2020

by Iris Johansen

  • Publication Date: May 25, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1538713144
  • ISBN-13: 9781538713143