Chasing the Night
By Iris Johansen
St. Martin’s Press
I read Johansen’s Storm Cycle several months ago and when the opportunity to read this one popped up, I took it. While thrillers and crime fiction are not part of my regular reading, I do enjoy a good one once in a while and Johansen is a writer I feel I can turn too.
Forensic sculptor, Eve Duncan, is preparing for her latest reconstruction — a murdered young girl. With memories of her dead daughter, Bonnie, swirling in her head, she knows it will be a rough case emotionally but believes she can help the girl and her family find peace. At the start of the case, she gets a call from a CIA operative she’s worked with in the past, Venable, who wants her to do him a favor. She declines but soon after finds herself playing host to Catherine Ling.
Catherine is an agent of Venable’s and a woman tormented by the loss of her son. She asked Venable to convince Eve to help her, and when Eve refused, Catherine decides the only way to persuade Eve to help her is by telling her about Luke, her missing son. Catherine’s story breaks Eve’s heart and before she knows what she’s agreed to, Eve tells Catherine that she will do the age progression for her. Eve will never be able to bring back her daughter Bonnie but wants to help Catherine in any way she can. Even if the only help she can reasonably provide is giving her a picture of her son at his current age. Catherine believes her son is alive but knows that the madman who kidnapped Luke when he was only two may have killed him. Her unwavering belief that her son is still alive is what convinces Eve to help her.
What looks like a few days of trying and emotional work turns out to be much more complicated when the man who kidnapped Catherine’s son gets Eve involved. Without knowing what horrors await them, Catherine and Eve leave for Russia, and with a little help from Eve’s friend and lover, Joe Quinn, and some CIA assistance, they set out to find Luke.
There is one thing I always remind myself when reading a book like this one — suspension of disbelief. So much happens in such a short period and most of the time particulars are left out of the picture. And when I start to think about how people manage to cross international borders without the aid of things like passports, I get bothered. Johansen makes you forget all of these things with her story. In fact, she doesn’t give you much time to even think because you’ll be reminding yourself to breathe because her characters and the story move so fast with a million twists and turns.
This is the newest book in the Eve Duncan series and I can see why people are such fans of this character. Eve is a flawed woman with so much emotional baggage you wonder how she makes it through the day but that’s also what makes her interesting. Besides her work, there is nothing clinical about her and you like her for those reasons. The story in this book is heartbreaking — although I can’t imagine how stories about missing children couldn’t be — and that’s what keeps you riveted. Catherine is a high-strung character and very intense. She’s not likable but Eve makes her quest for her son very human, and when she drops the facade she put in place to help her deal with finding her son, she becomes much more relatable. She’s a woman with one thing on her mind and that’s finding her son. Eve knows that feeling only too well and wraps herself up in Catherine’s search.
Not wanting to ruin the ending, I won’t say much more than this — fans of the Eve Duncan series will be left with eager anticipation for the next book as this one leaves off with a bit of a cliff hanger. This was only my second Johansen book and the first foray into the Eve Duncan series, but even I want to know how this story will continue.