The Perfect Witness: Iris Johansen
Memories are precious except when they belong to someone else and terrify you. Memories are precious except if they belong to another person who destroyed people and lives in the past. What would you do if you could read the memories of people, find out inner most secrets, fears and deeds and bring them down? What would you do if your parents used you as a lethal pawn to bring down their enemies and did not really care for your welfare doing it in the name of LOVE! What would you do if you were Teresa Casali who learned that she had this unusual gift or curse you might way enabling her to read the memories of people? With a father who was the head of the mob and a mother who was more like a trophy wife always wanting to be in the limelight, needing accolades and riches to justify her status in life, Teresa learns many hard lessons at 16. Author Iris Johansen introduces us to a new character that is tough, relentless, distrusting, hardnosed and often does not think before she acts. Tough, tenacious, rambunctious and at times downright rude, Teresa presents a tough match for the one person who is out to make sure she survives.
Shot, injured and running for her life, Teresa finds herself at the mercy of her father’s former partners and their goal to find her and bring her back into their fold will only destroy or maybe even take her life. Convincing her not to run away and allow him to protect her she encounters a dangerous and secretive man named Andre Mandak. Having his own mission and reason for wanting to help her, Teresa who will become Allie, in order to keep her alive and safe and in a witness protection program, learns that using others in order to get what you want might be the only way she can survive. Taking her into his custody but first killing off the men who were after her, their leader goes free, the one who ordered her destroyed still out there and the chase is on to not only protect her but to avenge the death of a young boy named Simon. Mandak has a mission and after training, teaching and keeping her safe and restoring her energy and health, he turns her over to Lee and Natalie Walberg. But, a man named Navarro and another named Camano have other ideas in store for her but will they succeed?
Memories flood back before she even joins Lee and Natalie as she recalls things that happened with her mother, being left on her own to fend for herself and soon learned the real meaning of trust. Leaving her alone at times, unsafe and only caring for her own personal and selfish needs, it is no wonder that Allie/Teresa developed some of those same traits herself.
Seven years go by and she is safe, into a routine, graduated college and going for an advanced degree when things from her past coming flooding down and her security is breached, the lives of those she cares about are in danger and rash decisions are made that costs many lives. Learning how to block out the memories and keep her ability at bay, she has been protected in way for seven years. Learning more about Mandak and his talent as a Searcher explains why he needs her, the mission to find children that were kidnapped into slavery, tortured and the reasons behind it held in a book called the Ledger which this sick, psychopath named Praland is holding captive. Without the Ledger he cannot find those that have been earmarked for death or those that have been kidnapped and tortured. Simon Walberg was one of Praland’s victims and before he could destroy him even more, Mandak took his life to spare him more pain. But, in doing so, he became marked and Praland will not stop until he does worse to Mandak for taking away his final pleasure with this innocent young boy.
Revenge, power, greed, distrust, hate, lust and selfishness are just some of the issues that the author brings to light in many if not all of the characters she has introduced in this thought provoking and mind blogging novel.
As Allie becomes more assimilated into the lives of Lee and Natalie when her security is breached and she approaches them for what to do what happens will surprise readers as the author throws in a huge twist and curve and that will Allie once again on her own having to decide which direction to travel and if she can ever trust anyone, including Mandak again.
Someone managed to break into her file and tracked her down. Josh Dantlow was to protect her but somehow he failed, Making her move to another location and leaving on the spot might have stopped what happened but she thought too long but would it have changed the outcome? Threats, dangers, more murders and a young girl that wanted to honor the memory of the two people she actually came to trust and love, Allie would learn that even when you want to do something good, there is someone who will take away even more.
Just who is Mandak and what his connection to the Devanez Family and how do all of the characters intertwine? Meet Renata who is the Keeper of the Ledger that needs to get it back before it’s too late. Watch how she and Allie interact and what happens when someone on the team is hurt and Allie refuses to not go back to save this one person. Mandak is a Searcher and she was and has been the most important thing on his agenda for seven years but if you look long and hard and you can see past the hardness, the hate and the fear and realize that there is something else between them that won’t go away.
As we get to know Praland, hear his voice understand his methods the reader will route for his demise but will it happen. Just what kind of a person does what he does to people? What happens when one of his minions turns to the other side and Mandak is now in control? What happens when Allie is places within arms distance of this man uses her skills and hopes to come out alive? What happens when you hear her mother’s voice, learn her true motives and find out just whom she is loyal to if anyone?
As you get to know Allie better you see many of her mother’s traits in her as they both do what they need to do to survive using those that can help them get ahead. What is the final outcome for Allie and Mandak? Will they give in to what has been festering for a long time? What happens when they finally know where the Ledger is and will they survive to bring it back safely? Who lives, who dies and whose memories will finally be destroyed?
Memories are precious when they belong to you and are yours alone. Memories are precious when you make them together with someone you care about. Allie/ Teresa finally realizes something that changes her perspective and attitude forever. Will she remain with Mandak? Will she keep running until she runs out of places or room to run? An ending that lets readers know that author Iris Johansen has just started Allie’s career as one of her newest and most formidable characters and adversary for any foe. A Perfect Witness is Iris Johansen at her best. Filled with twists, surprises, new characters that you will either love or hate, a young girl who is relentless and will not give up on her own principles, ideals and wants, this is a perfect first novel for these new characters.
Fran Lewis: reviewer