Smokescreen: Iris Johansen
Eve Duncan is smart, not easily deceived and adamant about the way she works. Passionate about her reconstructions and never failing in her final tribute to the person who’s image she creates on what is left of the skull. But, this time she was manipulated, practically threatened and even endangered by Jill Cassidy, a journalist who said her purpose of wanting her to go the back country of Maldara, where an attack by Botzan rebels killed twenty seven children and mangled and killed any adults who tried to save them from their brutality. The small village was decimated, and the children left for dead. Parents were devastated and their lives shattered wanting to have their children brought home. Eve meets Jill and she shows her pictures of the attack and what was left of the victims reeling her in even though, Joe does not want her to take on this project. Yet. She does much to his fears. Her goal is to reconstruct busts of the children that have died from their skulls, and hopefully with her story and her attempt to show how upset she is about what happened to these victims, get her to agree to go to Maldara.
Lies and deceptions are at the heart of this novel as Jill fails to tell her the real reason, she needs her help. CIA agent Jed Novak is notorious, dangerous and Jill seems captive to his wants and needs. Taken and tortured herself, lingering nightmares he is the only person that can temper her, calm her and hopefully help her get through her fears. There are 27 skulls and one more that needs to be identified as that of a deadly mercenary Nils Varak but is that skull his or is he still at large?
Eve is perceptive and realizes that she has not been told the truth about why she was taken there. Varak’s DNA tested positive but what it planted? Added in she learns more about the connection between Jill and Novak but when Michael senses that something is wrong with Eve and demands that his father go to Maldara, the result will be shocking if Joe leaves his mission.
In the middle of the dispute and the entire coverup is Zahra Kiyani the new and diabolical president of Maldara and is more dangerous than Matari and many others. She is greedy, power hungry and money will not stand in her way of taking what she wants. Thinking that she is a descendant of Cleopatra’s daughter Kiya as the author relates more about Cleopatra and her heritage including her death, Zahra uses her body and position to take control over UN diplomat Edward Wyatt to get concessions from the international world and huge changes with threats if he does not comply.
Joe now caught wind of the danger that Eve is in and is obsessed with coming to her aid as Sam Gideon is appointed with the task of bringing hm to Maldara but within that time frame, Jill is her constant companion and the author allows readers to hear the interactions, dreams and the truths behind Jill’s relationship with Novak and his feelings for her that have not ever been fully explored or expressed.
While Eve is working of the bust of Varak she has a sense that it might be evil but is it Varak and when and if his face does appear how will she deal with it. There are many smokescreens and block so many truths and the final reveal will be shocking.
Joe arrives but is manipulated to go to Cairo to deal with the DNA expert who might have created the false information about Varak using it to sidetrack law enforcement and Novak from realizing he might not have gotten on that helicopter and is still out there and alive.
The tension builds among all of the main characters as Eve is determined and bent on learning the truth about the skull, while Joe and Gideon are off to Cairo and Kovak and Jill remain at odds behind and seem to be battling with their own lies, betrayals and demons.
When the image is completed and the truth behind it is seen the events that follow take down many. The scientist that created the implanted DNA, the truth behind who it is, the in fighting between Joe, Gideon and Kovak runs the gambit of threats, control, power and blame is placed everywhere. Joe and Gideon did their best to obtain certain information that would help with the investigation but someone else knew they were in this gallery, the object in question reverts back to Zahras she is furious about the object in question belonging to her being stolen and the threats and interaction between her and Varak are deadly. With Joe on the warpath, Eve sticking her heels in tight, Jane and Michael plus Cara in danger things are about to escalate even more.
Jill is stubborn and insists about having control over certain parts of the operation and someone close to her that was supposed to supply something valuable is sacrificed. The author takes us down many dark roads, many dark paths realizing that set ups are in place, diversions to divert Joe and the others from the goals and the result will shock readers. Varak is more than deadly and anyone in his wake will suffer at his hand as we learn that he takes special delight in killing children, so Joe needs to make sure Michael is safe.
Dalai was Zahra’s slave and she was treated as chattel. Begging to whatever she required including being mistreated, raped and brutalized, when Gideon decided to take her on things changed, the stakes becoming higher and the picture of what happened at that school and Eve’s work at the museum became crystalized in more ways than one.
When Varak performs one more act of violence and the death toll rises, Zahra goes on television and steals the spotlight when the U.N. building is blown up, the diplomat that she was playing is killed and the pieces of a terrible puzzle are in place but will Joe, Gideon and Novak take out the link? Is Varak alive and when we get to know more about his relationship with Zahra its’s all about money, control and power but who will win?
When the final scenes are played and someone close to the truth finally sees things in a different light, Jill puts herself in the line of fire as she and Eve have to face off with a venomous killer but will they survive?
Author Iris Johansen fires up an ending that is so electrifying, so intense you can feel the embers as they explode.
An ending so powerful, so deadly and highly charged with Joe, Novak and Gideon fired up in many different directions, but who will survive, who will be sacrificed and who will fall prey to the greatest Smokescreen of all?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews