WHAT DOESN'T KILL YOU by Iris Johansen


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Johansen revives some of the same characters that populated her previous novels.

Catherine Ling is brilliant, gorgeous and deadly, so it’s a really good thing she’s on the CIA’s payroll. The daughter of a Russian prostitute who practiced her trade in Hong Kong, Catherine was left homeless and alone as a small child. Instead of learning to read and write in a classroom, she spent her childhood learning how to steal to put food on the table and defend herself from the hoodlums and gangsters that roamed the city’s streets. In the process, Catherine became a martial-arts expert and a genius in trafficking information, traits that brought her to the attention of an extraordinary chemist named Hu Chang. After saving Hu Chang’s life when she was only 14, Catherine develops a mentee-mentor relationship with the man, which becomes critical when the CIA rescues him from the clutches of an evil manipulator out to abuse Hu Chang’s talents. Although just arrived home from another mission and settling into the business of trying to develop a relationship with her son, Luke, who had been stolen and held captive as a small child, Catherine is sent to find Hu Chang. Soon, a series of events that bring old lovers, friends and enemies back into her life begins to build as Catherine scrambles to keep her loved ones safe. Johansen knows what readers like and doesn’t hesitate to give it to them, but they may tire of the genius, physical beauty and deadliness shared by the good guys: Catherine’s 11-year-old son reads a Chinese chemistry book, even though he does not speak any Chinese; all of the men who meet Catherine are immediately overcome with lust; and she outfights and outwits both her fellow agents and the forces of evil so often that the reader will be left wondering why the criminals bother trying.

The book, weighed down by a predictable plot, won’t thrill the reader with its super-woman heroine, wickedly handsome love interest and by-the-numbers supporting cast.



Pub Date: April 17th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-312-65123-7
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2012


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