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Stalemate: An Eve Duncan Forensics Thriller    by Iris Johansen order for
by Iris Johansen
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Readers of Iris Johansen's many novels can always look forward to tightly constructed plots, interesting characterizations, and plenty of surprises. And so it is that readers will not be disappointed with Stalemate, the twenty-eighth offering from one of America's most prolific and successful mystery writers.

When the action begins, the indefatigable Eve Duncan - the 'best forensic sculptor in the world' - has been keeping quite busy with her latest case - the forensic reconstruction of the skull of an unidentified murdered child. At the same time, though, she remains haunted by her own past - particularly the kidnapping and apparent murder of her daughter. Obsessive and focused, Eve remains determined to let nothing interfere with her professional goals.

However, all of that is about to change. A Columbian criminal, Luis Montalvo - a 'man of passion and emotion' - offers $1 million to Eve for a few days work at a remote location in Columbia. He wants Eve to do the forensic reconstruction of a skull so that the dead person's identity can finally be established; then Montalvo can settle old scores with a rival crime boss.

Eve immediately rejects Montalvo's lucrative but ethically challenged invitation, but then Montalvo raises the stakes: 'Help me and I'll help you,' he says; in fact, he says that if Eve will help him with the forensic reconstruction then he promises that he will find out what really happened to her missing daughter. With his connections to the criminal underworld, he has no doubts that he can solve Eve's daughter's case.

So, despite her own misgivings, and notwithstanding the CIA's apparent involvement in monitoring Montalvo's illicit activities, Eve decides to take a chance with Montalvo. Eve leaves 'everything and everyone behind, even {Joe Quinn} the man she trusts and loves the most.' When Eve travels 'to the luxurious armed compound of one of the world's most wanted criminals, deep in the Columbian jungle,' complications quickly arise, especially when the persistent and persuasive Montalvo tells Eve, 'We're going to become very close.' Eve finds herself in great danger - professionally and personally - and neither Joe Quinn nor the CIA will be able to protect her.

As Montalvo says to Eve, 'Every action has a reaction.' And in Stalemate, there is no shortage of amazing action and reactions. You'll be turning pages as quickly as you can to find out what happens next. Filled with excitement and featuring one of Johansen's most engaging protagonists, Stalemate is a sure-fire, fast-paced entertainment. Enjoy!

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