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Lost in Mysterious Island: Reading Iris Johansen and crime fiction

This is not for the faint-hearted.

The early 1980s saw the rise of American author Iris Johansen’s romance novels. She turned to writing suspense historical romance novels in 1991. Five years later, her shift to crime fiction would place her and seventeen of her novels in The New York Times bestsellers.

Iris Johansen is the main reason why I like crime fiction and mystery/thriller novels; through her, I have also discovered and come to love other crime fiction writers like Kathy Reichs, Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson, and Mary Higgins Clark. Even as a child, I was already a crime buff, it was in second grade when I started reading the Nancy Drew series.

Now that I’m a sophomore in college, I can proudly say that I have watched the entire series of CSI Cyber, NCIS, NCIS LA, Bones, Castle, and Blacklist. I have always loved the adrenaline rush that I feel whenever I watch these shows. It never really occurred to me that books could give me the same feeling, not until I read my first Iris Johansen novel.

It was when I first read The Ugly Duckling that I began to love crime fiction. Her Eve Duncan forensics thriller series are my personal favorites because the series focuses on a woman named Eve who had her daughter Bonnie murdered, and yet was able to find her life even after the terrible series of events that followed. I chose to include in this list of books to read the first three books that I read from Iris Johansen, and the last two of her books that I have read so far.

It was when I first read The Ugly Duckling that I began to love crime fiction.

The Ugly Duckling

The Ugly Duckling

If fate suddenly made you more beautiful than you ever dreamed possible, would it be the beginning of a fairy tale, or your worst nightmare?

This was the first ever Iris Johansen novel that I read. The story revolves around a woman named Nell Calder who witnesses the murder of her daughter Jill andher husband on the same night that she was attacked by the same killer. Nell miraculously survives the attack, but she isn’t able to save her daughter and does not know if her husband is dead or alive.

To catch her prey, she would have to reveal herself—even if it makes her a killer’s prime target.

Nell’s attacker is still on the hunt, determined to finish what he started. And Nell, protected by her new face, is just as determined to fight back and exact revenge. But to catch her prey, she would have to reveal herself—even if it makes her a killer’s prime target. With the help of Nicholas Tanek, would Nell finally have her revenge?

Long After Midnight

Long After Midnight

The first warning was triggered hundreds of miles away. The second warning exploded only yards from where she and her son stood. Now, Kate Denby realizes the frightening truth: She is somebody’s target!

Danger has arrived in Kate’s backyard with a vengeance. And the gifted scientist is awakening to a nightmarish world where a ruthless killer is stalking her… where her innocent son is considered expendable… and where the medical research to which she has devoted her life is the same research that could get her killed. Her only hope of protecting her family and making that medical breakthrough is to elude her enemy until she can face him on her own ground, on her own terms, and destroy him.

The medical research to which she has devoted her life is the same research that could get her killed.

And Then You Die

And Then You Die

She expected sunshine and balmy breezes. What she saw was everyone’s worst nightmare.

Bess Grady has heard the unmistakable sound before. She knows what it means. But not even the eerie lament of the howling dogs can prepare her for what has taken place in the small village. The seasoned photojournalist had been sent there on an easy assignment, and now she has stumbled upon something she was never meant to see.

Amid chaos and fear, she joins forces with an intimidating stranger, a man whose methods have a way of leaving bodies in his wake. For what she has witnessed is only the first stage in a plan of terror that may kill us all. And she has no choice but to stop it… or die trying…

Sleep No More

Sleep No More

This is one of the most recent Eve Duncan forensics series that I have been able to read. (I am still currently hunting all stores for Taking Eve and Silencing Eve and all the other books which I haven’t read yet.) In this book, the so much has already happened in the Eve Duncan forensics series.

To keep you up to speed, this is what happened so far: Eve Duncan is a forensic sculptor. For a living, she reconstructs the faces of people based on their skull shape. (Kind of like what Temperance Brennan does in Kathy Reich’s Tempe Brennan novels, which inspired the FOX series Bones.) Eve’s daughter Bonnie was murdered. Eventually, Eve fell in love with Joe Quinn who works with the Atlanta PD. They adopt a girl named Jane, and soon enough Jane grows up and goes off to Rhode Island for art school.

Joe and Eve haven’t had a perfect life, but they live peacefully on a rest house by a lake in Atlanta. In spite of their relaxed lifestyle, Eve could never let go of Bonnie’s murder and sometimes talks to her at night on the balcony when she thinks nobody’s listening.

Beth was locked away in a psychiatric facility by her family for no good reason.

This book Sleep No More is about Eve and Beth. Beth was locked away in a psychiatric facility by her family for no good reason. Beth was not retarded, and was very well capable of thinking and making her own decisions. For some reason, she and Eve have telepathic visions of each other’s lives and soon they learn that they are sisters from the same mother.

Long-buried secrets about Beth are uncovered. Eve begins to realize how their lives are entwined and how Beth’s disappearance puts her in grave danger. Eve enlists the help of Kendra Michaels, a profiler and a good friend of Eve’s and Joe’s who has the uncanny ability to detect clues and solve puzzles.

She concludes that Beth has escaped from the hospital and the mind-altering drugs that have held her prisoner for so long, and is on the run. Eve begins to see the threads of a twisted plot within the powerful Avery family, one that threatens to destroy not only Beth, but anyone else who may jeopardize the high-stakes game that is already in play.

Hunting Eve

Hunting Eve

This is the book that comes after Taking Eve (which I haven’t read yet). In this book, Eve was abducted by Jim Doane, the deranged father of Kevin Doane the serial killer who claimed that he killed Bonnie. She was captured for her skills as a forensic sculptor to reconstruct his dead son’s skull from bone fragments.

Eve escapes her captor and runs for her life. Alone. Unarmed, in the middle of the mountains in Colorado. Eve must use all of her strength, courage, and wits to survive this madman’s obsession. But Jim Doane is not the only player in this game. While Joe, Jane, and Kendra search for Eve in the abandoned mining town that could either be her refuge or her grave, a stranger with ties to her past is closing in circling like a wolf.

A stranger with ties to her past is closing in circling like a wolf.

If you want to enjoy the Eve Duncan thrillers, I have the full list in order. I haven’t read it all yet, though. Tell me what you think.

  1. The Face of Deception (1998)
  2. The Killing Game (1999)
  3. The Search (2000)
  4. Body of Lies (2002)
  5. Blind Alley (2004)
  6. Countdown (2005)
  7. Stalemate (2006)
  8. Quicksand (2008)
  9. Blood Game (2009)
  10. Eight Days to Live (2010)
  11. Chasing the Night (2010)
  12. Eve (2011)
  13. Quinn (2011)
  14. Bonnie (2011)
  15. Sleep No More (2012)
  16. Taking Eve (2013)
  17. Hunting Eve (2013)
  18. Silencing Eve (2013)
  19. Shadow Play (2015)
  20. Hide Away (2016)
  21. Night and Day (2016)

Header image from feminiya.com

About the author

Alyssa Rae Evangelista

Alyssa Rae Evangelista

Aly is an AB Literature student at the University of San Carlos. She survives on late night coffee and early morning missions with her friends who are mostly professionals. She likes food, coffee, spoiling her inaanak, travelling with friends, working part-time to earn money, reading, photography, and singing. She is an amateur singer who performs gigs from time to time in different cafes around the metro. Although she is just 18, she dreams of travelling around the world. After graduating, she plans to be a travel writer/blogger; if that doesn’t work out, she will turn her passion for performing into a career.

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