No One to Trust
I’ve never read anything by Iris Johansen before, but after having read No One to Trust, I’m off on a glom. This is my favorite type of book: fast-paced, intense, and featuring a likable hero and heroine.
DEA agent Ben Forbes needs a favor. Elena Kyler, Colombian born and raised by an American mercenary-cum-rebel fighter, contacts Forbes; she possesses something that drug kingpin Rico Chavez desperately wants. If Forbes meets with Elena, she’ll tell him how to use it to trap Chavez. Forbes knows that he can’t trust the word of a former rebel, so he goes to jack-of-all-trades Sean Galen. Galen lost two men to Chavez trying to rescue a kidnapped executive and would love a chance to get even, so he agrees to help, despite being wary of the unknown Elena.
The feeling of distrust is mutual. Elena has an even greater reason than saving her own skin for being wary: the possession that Chavez wants is their son, Barry, who was conceived when Chavez brutally raped her over a period of several weeks. Elena says that if she and Barry are taken to the USA, Chavez will follow, making his capture by DEA easier. Galen intends to wash his hands of Elena and the boy once he gets them to California. Fortunately he can’t get Elena out his mind, and keeps tabs on Chavez and his minion’s movements. Good thing too, because Forbes allows Chavez to get too close. Galen is just barely able to save Elena and her son. Soon they are on the run and Elena tries to learn to trust Galen because he’s the only one who can help her now.
Johansen deals with trust-related issues in this book. There’s the trust between parent and child, the trust between a man and woman, trust between friends, and of course the flip side of trust – betrayal. These themes are juggled and twisted until even the reader doesn’t know whom they can trust besides Galen and Elena.
Galen as a hero is immensely likable. He’s a problem solver and he tackles the issue of Elena like a problem to be solved, step by step. He charms her, but more importantly he respects her intelligence and her abilities and uses them to help her learn to trust. But Galen is all witty talk and we only get to know him superficially.
Elena we get to know much deeper. A rebel soldier by the time she was twelve and a lethal killer by her teens; she was sold by her fellow rebels to Chavez for cocaine, and eventually betrayed by her junkie brother for the same price. She’s familiar with the worst side of humanity therefore she has little reason to trust anyone, let alone Galen. She’s just looking for a safe place to raise her son and knows the only way that can truly happen is if Chavez is out of the picture. Fortunately, Galen chips away at her issues one at a time until she can start to heal.
Chavez is a truly nasty piece of work. He’s a man who takes pleasure in destroying people. He’s obsessed with getting his hands on Barry because his other children are all girls. The science of X an Y chromosomes aside, Barry is proof of virility and manhood, where as Elena is proof of his weakness, the one woman who’s been able to beat him. Yet, in the end it’s someone Elena and Galen don’t expect who proves to be the most danger to their safety and happiness.
It also has to be mentioned that characters from Johansen’s previous books make an appearance, just as Galen was a secondary character in their books. Don’t fear, though – this one stands on its own. No One to Trust is an exciting and fun read, but don’t expect more. Though Johansen has a romance background, this one doesn’t engage any deeper emotion than a good action movie. It was very enjoyable while it lasted, and I’m off to look for other Johansen novels to read.