A trail of terrifying secrets...
And a woman whose talented hands could reveal the shocking truth...
As a forensic sculptor, Eve Duncan helps identify the dead from their skulls. Her own daughter murdered and her body never found, the job is Eve's way of coming to terms with her personal nightmare. But more terror lies ahead when she accepts work from billionaire John Logan.
Beneath her gifted hands a face emerges from the skull he has given her to reconstruct—a face no one was ever meant to see. Now Eve is trapped in a frightening web of murder and deceit. Powerful enemies are determined to cover up the truth, and they will make certain that truth goes to the grave...even if Eve gets buried with it.
Excerpt"You look beautiful," Eve said. "Where are you going tonight?""I'm meeting Ron at Anthony's. He likes the food there." Sandra leaned forward and checked her mascara in the hall mirror, then straightened the shoulders of her dress. "Damn these shoulder pads. They keep shifting around.""Take them out.""We all don't have broad shoulders like you. I need them.""Do you like the food there?""No, it's a little too fancy for me. I'd rather go to the Cheesecake Factory.""Then tell him.""Next time. Maybe I should like it. Maybe it's a learning type thing." She grinned at Eve in the mirror. "You're big on learning new things.""I like Anthony's, but I still like to pig out at McDonald's when I'm in the mood." She handed Sandra her jacket. "And I'd fight anyone who tried to tell me I shouldn't do it.""Ron doesn't tell me--" She shrugged. "I like him. He comes from a nice family in Charlotte. I don't know if he'd understand about the way we lived before-- I just don't know.""I want to meet him.""Next time. You'd give him that cool once-over and I'd feel like a high school kid bringing home my first date."Eve chuckled and gave her a hug. "You're crazy. I just want to make sure he's good enough for you.""See?" Sandra headed for the door. "Definitely first-date syndrome. I'm late. I'll see you later."Eve went to the window and watched her mother back out of the driveway. She hadn't seen her mother this excited and happy in years.Not since Bonnie was alive.Well, there was no use staring wistfully out the window. She was glad her mother had a new romance, but she wouldn't trade places with her. She wouldn't know what to do with a man in her life. She wasn't good at one-night stands, and anything else required a commitment she couldn't afford.She went out the back door and down the kitchen steps. The honeysuckle was in bloom and the heady scent surrounded her as she walked down the path to the lab. The aroma always seemed stronger at twilight and early morning. Bonnie used to love the honeysuckle and was always picking it off the fence, where the bees constantly buzzed. Eve had been at her wit's end trying to stop her before she got stung.She smiled at the recollection. It had taken her a long time to be able to separate the good memories from the bad. At first she had tried to save herself from pain by closing out all thoughts of Bonnie. Then she had come to understand that that would be forgetting Bonnie and all the joy she had brought into her and Sandra's lives. Bonnie deserved more than--"Ms. Duncan."She stiffened, then whirled around."I'm sorry, I didn't mean to frighten you. I'm John Logan. I wonder if I could speak to you?"John Logan. If he hadn't introduced himself she would have recognized him from the photo. How could she miss that California tan? she thought sardonically. And in that gray Armani suit and Gucci loafers, he looked as out of place in her small backyard as a peacock. "You didn't frighten me. You startled me.""I rang the doorbell." He smiled as he walked toward her. There was not an ounce of fat on his body, and he exuded confidence and charm. She had never liked charming men; charm could hide too much. "I guess you didn't hear me.""No." She had the sudden desire to shake his confidence. "Do you always trespass, Mr. Logan?"The sarcasm didn't faze him. "Only when I really want to see someone. Could we go somewhere and talk?" His gaze went to the door of her lab. "That's where you work, isn't it? I'd like to see it.""How did you know it's where I work?""Not from your friends at the Atlanta P.D. I understand they were very protective of your privacy." He strolled forward and stood beside the door. He smiled. "Please?"He was obviously accustomed to instant acquiescence, and annoyance surged through her again. "No."His smile faded a little. "I may have a proposition for you.""I know. Why else would you be here? But I'm too busy to take on any more work. You should have phoned first.""I wanted to see you in person." He glanced at the lab. "We should go in there and talk.""Why?""It will tell me a few things about you that I need to know."She stared at him in disbelief. "I'm not applying for a position with one of your companies, Mr. Logan. I don't have to go through a personnel check. I think it's time you left.""Give me ten minutes.""No, I have work to do. Good-bye, Mr. Logan.""John.""Good-bye, Mr. Logan."He shook his head. "I'm staying."She stiffened. "The hell you are."He leaned against the wall. "Go on, get to work. I'll stay out here until you're ready to see me.""Don't be ridiculous. I'll probably be working until after midnight.""Then I'll see you after midnight." His manner no longer held even a hint of his previous charm. He was icy cool, tough, and totally determined.She opened the door. "Go away.""After you talk to me. It would be much easier for you to just let me have my way.""I don't like things easy." She closed the door and flicked on the light. She didn't like things easy and she didn't like being coerced by men who thought they owned the world. Okay, she was overreacting. She didn't usually let anyone disturb her composure, and he hadn't done anything but invade her space.What the hell, her space was very important to her. Let the bastard stay out there all night.She threw open the door at eleven thirty-five."Come in," she said curtly. "I don't want you out there when my mother comes home. You might scare her. Ten minutes.""Thank you," he said quietly. "I appreciate your consideration."No sarcasm or irony in his tone, but that didn't mean it wasn't there. "It's necessity. I was hoping you'd give up before this.""I don't give up if I need something. But I'm surprised you didn't call your friends at the police department and have them throw me out.""You're a powerful man. You probably have contacts. I didn't want to put them on the spot.""I never blame the messenger." His gaze traveled around the lab. "You have a lot of room here. It looks smaller from outside.""It used to be a carriage house before it was a garage. This part of town is pretty old.""It's not what I expected." He took in the rust and beige striped couch, the green plants on the windowsill, and then the framed photos of her mother and Bonnie on the bookshelf across the room. "It looks . . . warm.""I hate cold, sterile labs. There's no reason why I can't have comfort as well as efficiency." She sat down at her desk. "Talk.""What's that?" He moved toward the corner. "Two video cameras?""It's necessary for superimposition.""What is-- Interesting." His attention had been drawn to Mandy's skull. "This looks like something from a voodoo movie with all those little spears stuck in it."I'm charting it to indicate the different thicknesses of skin.""Do you have to do that before you--""Talk."He came back and sat down beside the desk. "I'd like to hire you to identify a skull for me."She shook her head. "I'm good, but the only sure ways of identification are dental records and DNA.""Both of those require subjects to match. I can't go that route until I'm almost certain.""Why not?""It would cause difficulties.""Is this a child?""It's a man.""And you have no idea who he is?""I have an idea.""But you're not going to tell me?"He shook his head."Are there any photos of him?""Yes, but I won't show them to you. I want you to start fresh and not construct the face you think is there.""Where were the bones found?""Maryland . . . I think.""You don't know?""Not yet." He smiled. "They haven't actually been located yet."Her eyes widened in surprise. "Then what are you doing here?""I need you on the spot. I want you with me. I'll have to move fast when the skeleton is located.""And I'm supposed to disrupt my work and go to Maryland on the chance that you'll locate this skeleton?""Yes," he said calmly."Bull.""Five hundred thousand dollars for two weeks' work.""What?""As you've pointed out, your time is valuable. I understand you rent this house. You could buy it and still have a lot left over. All you have to do is give me two weeks.""How do you know I rent this house?""There are other people who aren't as loyal as your friends at the police department." He studied her face. "You don't like having dossiers gathered on you.""You're damn right I don't.""I don't blame you. I wouldn't either.""But you still did it."He repeated the word she had used with him. "Necessity. I had to know who I was dealing with.""Then you've wasted your efforts. Because you're not dealing with me.""The money doesn't appeal to you?""Do you think I'm nuts? Of course it appeals to me. I grew up poor as dirt. But my life doesn't revolve around money. I pick and choose my jobs these days, and I don't want yours.""Why not?""It doesn't interest me.""Because it doesn't concern a child?""Partly.""There are other victims besides children.""But none as helpless." She paused. "Is your man a victim?""Possibly.""Murder?"He was silent a moment. "Probably."
The Face Of Deception is book one in Iris Johansen's Eve Duncan series. And a brilliantly penned, intrigue laced, game of whodunnit to boot.
Leading lady, Eve Duncan, is a woman who knows the pain of loss all too well.
After having suffered through the devastation of the death of her only daughter, Bonnie.
At the hands of an unrepentant serial killer.
Only to then have the secret of where he hid her body die with him as well. On the day that he was executed for his crimes.
A secret that she now hopes her work as one of the world's premiere forensic sculptors and age progressionists will one day allow her to uncover for herself and her child. Just as she has for so many parents and children during the course of her career.
A career that she would continue to pursue via the cozily eclectic, and unassuming personal lab in her back yard.
If it weren't for tech billionaire, John Logan. And his unrelenting quest to enlist her help for what at first seems a far fetched quest to rewrite America's political history.
But upon closer inspection, proves to be a race against both time and a murderous foe. To ensure that America's political future does not rest in the hands of a desperate psychopath. Willing to do anything to justify the means with their desired ends. Even if they have to kill Eve to do it.
The Face Of Deception is the perfect first book.
Not only are readers introduced to a relatable, tough, and intelligent heroine in Eve Duncan.
They also become privy to a treasure trove of supporting players in both Eve's story and the greater one of the book at large.
While both driving the happenings of both Eve's and the story's present. And seamlessly coloring within the shadowy and gut-wrenching details of her past.
With the most notable member of said cast being one Joe Quinn. The former FBI agent and Navy SEAL, turned Lutinant Detective of the Atlanta police department. Has been a major player in Eve's life since his time with the FBI put him face to face with a then desperate mother seeking justice for her lost child. While struggling to maintain a rather tenuous hold on her sanity in the process.
While it is very aparant that a great deal has changed for the two since the pain of those early days. It seems that the bond that the two share has only deepened. Both personally and professionally as time has passed.
So much so in fact. That Joe sometimes seems as much Eve's leading man as Logan.
Another notable quotable among the Duncan clan. Bonnie, who now shares some of Eve's most poignant inner dialogue. When she appears to her mother in dreams. Providing her with very practical and heartfelt advice. At just the right moment.
And it seems that as Eve follows Logan down what appears to be an ever deepening political rabbit hole. The both of them are going to need all of the sage advice they can get.
Especially when it comes to light that Logan is in the possession of the proverbial "bones that could sink a thousand political ships." If what he believes is true.
The Face Of Deception, as a story has so many twists, turns, nooks, and crannies. That one will want to explore. Safe in the assurance that there is an easy continuity that is always in the background. Just waiting to guide the you, as the reader back to the story at large.
When you add in the author's meticulous attention to technical, scenic, and contextual details. As well as natural character interaction and plot progression.
An ending to literally die for.
Or in the case of this reviewer...
An ending that will make you want to go out and get the next book in the (at the time of my writing this) 25 book series.
You can safely conclude that Eve and her stories will be winding their way through your TBR pile and your heart for quite some time to come.
Reviewer's Note: While The Face Of Deception is the first in a continual series. It may be read as a standalone. Although, it is strongly suggested that it be enjoyed as part of its intended collection.
Iris Johansen is a New York Times bestselling author. She began her writing after her children left home for college. She first achieved success in the early 1980s writing category romances. In 1991, Johansen began writing suspense historical romance novels, starting with the publication of The Wind Dancer. In 1996 Johansen switched genres, turning to crime fiction, with which she has had great success.
She lives in Georgia and is married. Her son, Roy Johansen, is an Edgar Award-winning screenwriter and novelist. Her daughter, Tamara, serves as her research assistant.
IRIS JOHANSEN is The New York Times bestselling author of Night and Day, Hide Away, Shadow Play, Your Next Breath, The Perfect Witness, Live to See Tomorrow, Silencing Eve, Hunting Eve, Taking Eve, Sleep No More, What Doesn't Kill You, Bonnie, Quinn, Eve, Chasing The Night, Eight Days to Live, Blood Game, Deadlock, Dark Summer, Pandora's Daughter, Quicksand, Killer Dreams, On The Run, and more. And with her son, Roy Johansen, she has coauthored Night Watch, The Naked Eye, Sight Unseen, Close Your Eyes, Shadow Zone, Storm Cycle, and Silent Thunder.