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Johansen (And Then You Die, 1998, etc.) leaves romance behind for some pedestrian adventure and a stab at emotional healing. Ever since best-selling Patricia Cornwell introduced medical examiner Kay Scarpetta, romantic-suspense authors have driven their plots by means of coroners and forensic anthropologists. And now here’s what may possibly be the first forensic sculptor—namely, Eve Duncan, who takes skulls and, with the use of computers, scientific measurements, fake eyeballs, and her own sculpting talent, re-creates the fleshed-out heads of possible murder victims. Why? Because she’s searching for the body of her daughter Bonnie, who was killed by a psychopath but never found. Calling them her “lost ones,” Eve obsessively rebuilds the heads of slain children—until now unidentified’so that she can send them home to their families for burial. Meanwhile, Eve, being one of the best forensic sculptors around, is solicited for a top-secret mission by computer billionaire John, who fails to tell her of the many dangers he’s involving her in. With a cock-and-bull story about finding the real head of John F. Kennedy, he hires her to sculpt a face around a mysterious skull that turns out to belong to the corpse of the now-President of the US (Ben Chadbourne). A double, it turns out, is occupying the White House and being manipulated by the brilliant First Lady and an official in the Treasury Department. Johansen gives hints of a budding affair between Eve and Logan and between Eve and her best pal, Atlanta police detective Joe Quinn. The trouble is that with three strong, silent types like Duncan, Logan, and Quinn, there isn’t a whole lot for the reader to sink her romantic teeth into, and, with the exception of a great red herring at the start, there isn’t a whole lot of suspense, either. A sequel is on its way, and perhaps with that Johansen will deliver what she only promises here.

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1998
ISBN: 0-553-10623-6
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1998


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