September 20th, 2018
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Shattered Mirror

Shattered Mirror, December 2018
by Iris Johansen

St. Martin's Paperbacks
Featuring: Michael; Eve Duncan
ISBN: 1250075939
EAN: 9781250075932
Kindle: B072QBL6P1
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book (reprint)
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"Knowing who the bad guy is still does not prepare us for the chilling conclusion."

Fresh Fiction Review

Shattered Mirror
Iris Johansen

Reviewed by Sandra Wurman
Posted September 10, 2018

Romance Suspense | Thriller

SHATTERED MIRROR is a labyrinth of possibilities constructed on a strange series of connections. Think of trying to put back together a shattered mirror -- a puzzle that defies logic and sense and yet Eve Duncan's career is built around her somewhat innate ability to put these puzzles together. As a forensic sculptor Eve recreates faces from nothing more than a skull. These skulls communicate with Eve, as difficult as that is to comprehend. And now it appears that her six-year-old son Michael shares Eve's ability to connect with the people behind the skull.

Sounds kind of scary but these facial reconstructions have helped close open cases, helped a family find closure and in some cases prevent more murders. Not all skulls are a result of foul play but Eve knows they each tell a story, that's her job and she takes it very seriously.

The newest skull has brought with it a kind of crazy story. Eve and her husband Quinn need to find the solution to the puzzle seemingly attached to it. The case seems to be much more personal. The safety of Eve and her family are at risk, and it all began with this charred skull with a bullet hole at the temple.

As always Iris Johansen has crafted a story filled with a multitude of twists and turns which have even the best arm chair detective second-guessing themselves. A great subtitle for SHATTERED MIRROR would be changes since it follows some pretty life-altering ones for many of the characters. Starting with Eve and her family, Cara and her grandfather Kaskov and now Darcie and Sylvie.

The roads twist and turn, intertwining quickly and often in this fast-paced crime novel. Hard to keep track of the good guys and bad guys. At time role reversal is the game of the day.

At each bend in the road some new facts emerge and for the most part do not appear to have any connection with this skull. And since neither Eve nor Quinn believe in coincidence, they are determined to get the facts. They are not satisfied with accepting these events are mere coincidence. There is definitely an element of evil and there is no shortage of evildoers. Some strangers and some family.

I am once again charged with providing a review for one of Iris Johansen's books without giving up too many facts about the storyline. Suffice it to say that at each new crossroad the reader finds themselves looking at circumstances that defy logic. The road to closure is indeed muddied up with new people and events popping up. The cast of characters is amazing and Iris Johansen outdoes herself in SHATTERED MIRROR with some pretty devious and creepy ones. As always this Eve Duncan crime novel completely stands on its own. And in SHATTERED MIRROR Iris Johansen incorporates just about everyone we have ever met in previous books.

Learn more about Shattered Mirror

SUMMARY

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes an explosive thriller featuring forensic sculptor Eve Duncan.

Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan is once again thrown into a deadly game of intrigue when she receives a cryptic package containing a skull and a two sided mirror. Eve is determined to reconstruct the skull and uncover the mystery of the person’s identity, and when she does, the face of a beautiful woman begins to emerge. But who is she?

As Eve gets closer and closer to finding the answer, she becomes swept up in a lethal chase that spans continents and threatens to destroy the family that she has worked so hard to bring together. Eve and her team must work quickly to discover who is behind the murder – and maybe even prevent more loss of life. But how do you fight a killer who is willing to destroy anyone as a means to an end?

No one is safe in #1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen’s next explosive, high-stakes thriller that will keep readers on the edge of their seat through every heart-pounding chapter.

Excerpt

The lights in the lake cottage sent out a cozy glow that lit the banks of the lake and made that house of death appear welcoming. Everything about the place and property spoke of beauty and a deceptive invitation that made one think that all was well with this world. Because she was there, Rory Norwalk thought, as he moved a few steps closer, his gaze on the cottage. She was the heart of the house, the one who destroyed the balance, who had ruined everything when she could have saved. She claimed that she was a mender, a fixer, but Norwalk knew that was all lies. He was the one who would fix what was broken. Eve Duncan only interfered and made a mockery of what was true and right. But that was going to stop; he couldn’t permit it any longer. Laughter …

He stepped back in the shadow of the trees as a Jeep drove up into the driveway.

It was the father and the son. It was the little boy who had laughed. He laughed a lot; careless, joyous laughter that was as deceptive as this house. How could he be joyous when he lived with that woman who was so evil? Because he was evil, too? Norwalk had suspected it and was almost certain that the boy, Michael, would have to be fixed.

“Stay here,” Joe Quinn told his son as he got out of the car and started up the porch steps. “I’ll do it, but you’ll owe me, Michael. She told you not to do it again.”

“He wouldn’t listen,” Michael protested. “I tried, Dad. Just explain so that she won’t get upset. Okay?”

“No, it’s not okay. But I’ll call you in after I break it to her.” He’d reached the porch, and he looked back down at the little boy in the car. “You sit there and think about what you’re going to say to your mother. And you start off with telling her that you’re not going to do it again.”

“But I may have to do it again,” the little boy said quietly. “I can’t lie to her.”

Joe Quinn sighed. “No, you can’t. We’ll think of something.” He disappeared into the house.

Leaving the little boy alone in the car.

The boy was not often left alone, Norwalk knew. He was only six, and his mother was very careful since they lived on the lake. And Joe Quinn was a police detective, and he was wary of everything and everyone.

Was this moment of abandonment meant to be a sign to Norwalk? It was not why he was here, though he’d mentally already accepted that down the road it must be done. He was very quick, and children were so gullible. It would only take a few moments. He instinctively moved faster through the trees, his gaze on the boy in the Jeep.

But the boy was no longer in the Jeep.

He’d gotten out of the vehicle and was standing on the last porch step. He was dressed in jeans and a navy-blue sweatshirt and his legs were slightly parted. The light from the porch light was burnishing his red-brown hair as if it were a copper helmet.

Helmet? Why had that word occurred to him, Norwalk wondered. It was because the boy’s bearing looked almost military, he realized. He looked like a soldier guarding a fortress. Ridiculous.

As ridiculous as the idea that the boy was looking directly to where Norwalk was standing under the trees and could see him. It was pitch-dark, there was no way he could be seen.

But that little boy knew he was there.

And he was not afraid.

Norwalk instinctively faded farther back in the trees.

Oh, he had been right to judge that Michael Quinn would also have to be taken out before that cozy house would be cleansed of all that was broken.

But not right now.

Just a little longer, Sean. I’m just as eager as you, but we have to keep to the plan, don’t we?

And all good things came to he who was willing to wait.

“Lord, you smell good.” Joe slid his hands around Eve’s waist from behind. “Fried onions and bacon. Is there any scent more appetizing?”

“It depends if you’re hungry.” She turned around and went into his arms. “Not exactly an alluring perfume if the aim is seduction.”

“Is that the aim? If it is, you must have gotten the reconstruction off today.”

She nodded. “This afternoon.” She chuckled. “But since when did work stop us?” She leaned back, and her gaze narrowed on his face. “And since when did you decide to pussyfoot around instead of coming out with what you’re thinking?”

He sighed. “I was trying for mellow and soothing. I promised Michael I’d do my best.”

She went still. “Do your best to do what?”

“Break it to you gently.”

“Joe.”

“He has a few bruises and a swollen lip.”

“What?” She pushed him away. “Who?”

“Same kid.”

She swore beneath her breath. “Same reason?”

He nodded. “He did what you told him to do. The kid wouldn’t listen. Boys aren’t usually receptive to persuasion or reason at that age.”

“He’s a bully.”

“And a head taller than Michael. I saw this Gary Walden when I picked Michael up from soccer practice tonight.”

“That’s the third time that he’s come home with bruises. The soccer coach should have stepped in and stopped it.”

“Probably didn’t know about it. Michael wouldn’t complain. You know that.”

Yes, she knew very well that Michael would keep his silence. Her son would quietly take whatever came his way and try to work his way through to a solution. That had been the way he handled problems from the time he was a toddler. Only this time the punishment he was taking was because of her, dammit. “Maybe I should talk to this Gary’s mother.”

“Which might make it worse for Michael.”

And that was why she had been avoiding doing that. “Kids can be savages.”

“Absolutely,” Joe said. “And TV and pop culture have led them to think that to latch onto something out of the ordinary and make fun of it is the way to go. But Michael will get bigger and stronger.” His lips tightened. “I’ve signed him up for a karate class. And a few more lessons in karate from me will even out the odds in the meantime. The problem will go away.”

Her lips twisted. “And this Gary will no longer tell Michael his mother is some kind of a ghoul who collects skulls for a hobby?”

“Not where Michael can hear him.” He smiled. “Come on, you’re the foremost forensic sculptor in the world. What difference does it make what that kid says?”

“It matters if it hurts Michael.”

“It doesn’t hurt Michael,” Joe said. “You know that, Eve. He’s only worried that it will upset you.” His hand reached out and touched her cheek. “That’s why he wanted me to break those damn bruises to you. He only wants to make certain that nothing ever hurts you.” He leaned forward, kissed her gently, and drew her close. “That’s what we all want. You know how smart Michael is. So give him a little time to work this out for himself.”

“He’s only six, Joe.” Her words were muffled against his chest.

“Going on thirty. You’ve always known he’s not like other kids.”

Yes, she’d known from the time Michael had been conceived that he was wonderful and special and he had never disappointed her. He was superintelligent and had the sweetest nature on the planet. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t her job to keep on protecting him. She had lost her daughter, Bonnie, who was only seven when she had died after being taken. It had nearly broken her heart. Michael was almost that age now, and whenever she thought about it, the fear returned. Block it. It wasn’t fair to Michael to live anything but a full and joyous life. “Yeah, I know. But maybe I’m not quite as grown up. I need a little bolstering on occasion.” She pushed him away. “Okay, I suppose you left him outside until you paved the way for him?”

Joe nodded. “In the Jeep. I told him I’d give him a call when you were ready for him.”

“I’m always ready for him.” She headed for the front door. “Watch the potatoes for me, Joe?”

“Sure.” He turned back to the stove. “Tell him, I did my best.”

“He knows that you would.” She smiled back at him. “And you’d better be quick about getting him very good at that karate. I don’t know how many of these sessions I can take.”

“An eternity,” he said softly. “I know you, Eve.”

He was right, she thought. There were no limits for her where Michael was concerned.

She went out on the porch. “Okay, Michael. Come out and face the music. Your father has given me the lowdown and he tried to—” She stopped. Michael was not in the Jeep, and there was something about the way he was standing on that bottom step that was … odd. “Michael?”

He turned and gave her a radiant smile that lit his entire face. “I’m coming, Mama.” He turned and ran up the stairs. “I was just looking out at the lake. It’s pretty tonight, isn’t it?” He hugged her. “I’m hungry. Can we eat before you yell at me about Gary?”

She held him close for an instant. “That might be possible.” She released him and opened the front door. “I thought you might want to stay out here on the porch and have it out first.”

“Nah.” His smile took on a hint of mischief. “I know Dad made sure that you wouldn’t be too mad at me. He’s a guy, too. He knows about these things.” He glanced at the lake and woods, then turned and headed for the door. “I don’t want to stay out here. I’d rather go in with you and eat supper…”

“Okay, talk to me,” Eve said as she cuddled Michael closer to her on the couch after supper. “I told you that if you couldn’t handle Gary yourself, you were to go to your teacher. Why didn’t you do it?”

“He would have got in trouble.”

“Exactly.”

“And he didn’t hurt me that bad. He was just scared.”


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