Gorgeous superspy Catherine Ling finds her world falling apart as a vicious killer she once sent to prison tries to wipe her past off the map.
Three people from Catherine’s past—Olena Petrov, Robert Jantzen, and Slantkey—are murdered in quick succession, all found with gold dog tags bearing Catherine’s name. When her old friend and mentor, Hu Chang, shows up, Catherine quickly deduces that only two men could be behind this attempt to wipe out her address book, and one is already dead. That means that Santos, a homicidal maniac from Caracas who was recently released from prison, is behind the slaughter. Catherine spreads the word to her best buddies that their lives are in danger, but maddeningly, they all seem to want to come to her rather than take cover. Erin, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist once saved by Catherine from a Tibetan warlord; Kelly, a teenage genius whose life Catherine saved in the jungles of Colombia; and others find their lives on the line, but Catherine is on the warpath, and that spells trouble for Santos’ plan. Although Johansen (The Perfect Witness, 2014, etc.) has a legion of fans, this messy recycling of characters from previous Catherine Ling novels feels thrown together. Much of the plot is contrived, with characters constantly regurgitating back story that everyone present would already have known. Johansen also throws in a good dose of mysticism and pads the pages with multiple one-line paragraphs. But instead of feeling Catherine’s anguish, most readers will feel annoyed with this half-baked literary mishmash, as the beautiful, intrepid, and deadly CIA agent spends most of her time hauling her young son on dangerous missions, lusting after a man who can read her mind, and moistening her lips while expertly delivering karate chops and killing cartoonish bad guys.
Even die-hard Johansen fans will find disappointment between the covers of this white-hot mess of a book.