I'm only giving this book 3-1/2 stars. Although not as low as the rating I gave "Blood Games", (which seemed to be nothing more than a vehicle to introduce Seth Caleb), in its own way, this book was similarly disappointing. Here are my issues:
▼ I agree with Caitysmom: this novel had a much slower pace than I've come to expect from Iris Johansen thrillers.
▼ Ms. Johansen seems to have crept into the writing style where all of the characters have to have a lot of inane dialog. I mean, c'mon... just how many times do we have to go through the same Eve telling Joe/Jane (or Jane telling Eve/Joe) just how tough she is?
▼ Although I understand that the author needn't some mechanism to add urgency to the search - and to give Catherine a reason from hanging back - I think the whole terrorist plot was pretty much a waste of ink.
▼ My only serious issue with this novel was that it was just a bit too predictable - even for an installment of an ongoing romantic thriller series. (I will admit that the mechanism by which the main bad guy was dispatched did catch me by surprise.)
▼ I was also disappointed that there was no resolution to the crushed skull that became such a focal point during the story. It would've been a good twist to have used that child as a tie-in to something else.
▼ Lastly, although I realize it's tough to bring everyone in Eve's growing universe into every Duncan story, I find it hard to believe that a psychopath like Rakovic would have left Jane alone.
All of that said, there are positives:
▲ The story's predictability made it light and easy read.
▲ The actual storyline was mostly believable and showed that Ms. Johansen had done her homework on the Russian mob and the very real brutalities between the Russians, the Georgians and the Ossetians.
▲ I think the new character - Catherine Ling - adds another person to Eve & Joe's world that's more believable than some of the previous ones (like Seth Caleb). I hope that she continues to be a part of the series.
It continues to be a pleasure to read the entries in this series of books. I'm looking forward to cruising through "Eve", "Quinn" and "Bonnie". Hopefully, the pace will pick up and some of the other deficiencies that have started to creep into the series will be taken care of. It will also be interesting to see how all of these new characters introduced in this three-book arc merge into the world of Eve and Joe and Jane.
All Even Duncan novels involve much more than just facial reconstruction. Joe Quinn is a cop so he always has a case going on and Eve occasionally works for the CIA so there's a good chance she'll be involved in something dangerous. Regardless of waht's going on, Eve (or Joe) are always the target of some whack-job and this book is no different.
Catherine Ling's (a CIA operative) son was kidnapped 9 years ago by a Russian crime boss whom she tried to take down at the CIA's instigation. In revenge, Rakovac kidnapped her son and has been tormenting her for years. Catherine has come to Eve to do an age progression on Luke so that Catherine can recognize him when she goes to rescue him. Unfortunately for Eve, Rakovac knows Catherine is coming and that Eve is involved. Now he's after two birds with one stone.
And because that's not enough stress for Eve (and Catherine), enter Kelly, a 14 year old kidnap/ra mathematical prodigy who sees patterns where others don't Can she convince Catherine to let her help or will Catherine send her back to her mother?
I could have done without the terrorist angle but otherwise the book was great. Eve Duncan mysteries never disappoint.