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by Iris Johansen

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-312-36804-3
Publisher: St. Martin's

A doctor inherits power beyond imagination from her murdered mother.

The usual sins, among them stilted writing and laughable plotting, persist in Johansen’s latest (Stalemate, 2007, etc.), a wretched fusion of Carrie and The Da Vinci Code. During childhood, Megan Blair heard voices in her head, which threatened to drive her mad. Her torment abruptly ceased with her mother’s murder when she was placed under the care of her kindly uncle Phillip. Now an ER physician at a hospital in Atlanta, Blair is shocked when a murderous thug named Tim Darnell tries to run her off the road during a botched assassination attempt. Soon Phillip and his cohort Neal Grady reveal the far-fetched circumstances of her condition. They, like Megan’s mother, have psychic powers, and Megan may be the most powerful member of their clan. They recognize Megan as a “listener,” a seer who hears the echoes of tragedies past, but fear she may also be a “Pandora,” with the power to unleash latent psychic talents in others. A more corporeal threat looms from the Sicilian sadist Molino, a slave-trader with a feudal rage toward Megan’s family who mutters stupid, malevolent oaths like, “Women are so soft and breakable.” Even if readers can surmount this preposterous introduction and hand-holding explanations delivered via simplistic dialogue, negotiating Johansen’s equally outlandish treasure hunt in the latter half is still a laborious exercise. The bad guys are after a ledger drafted during the Spanish Inquisition that details the names, location—and particular talents—of the ancestors of a demonized Spanish patriarch, as well as the keys to the family fortune. Escorted by new lover Grady and protected by an empathetic mercenary, Megan chases her nemesis from France to Germany before returning to Atlanta for a dim-witted denouement and a cliffhanger ending.

An overwrought flight of fancy that deserves to be returned to its box unopened.