Iris Johansen became one of my favorite suspense authors with The Face of Deception and The Killing Game. Both kept me on the edge of my seat with intricate twists and turns. The Search is scaled back a little in the intricacy of plot, but it is a still a good follow-up to her earlier books.
Sarah Patrick and her dog, Monty, are part of an elite search and rescue team who are called into the most critical situations. John Logan is a billionaire with a critical situation. He’s been targeted by a revenge-minded wacko, and he needs Sarah and Monty to find one of his missing employees. John usually gets what he wants, by any means necessary, and he manages to “persuade” Sarah to help him. Sarah and Monty go to work, but in the process they become targets, too.
Both Sarah Patrick and John Logan appeared in Johansen’s previous novels as secondary characters. The situation is reversed here, and the heroine of those two novels, Eve Duncan, plays the secondary role. I think this novel stands on its own, but reading The Face of Deception and The Killing Game will only enhance the experience for the first time reader of Iris Johansen.
Sarah is a prickly woman who’s been on her own for a while and prefers animals to people. I’m very happy she got to star in this novel because she was such an intriguing secondary character in The Killing Game. She needs no one besides Monty, who is a character in his own right. They have such a special relationship that they can literally read each other’s minds. Monty even gets a secondary romance (I’m not kidding). Sarah already knew John and disliked him, but during the course of their work things change. They form a more solid connection and develop a friendship, before lust and love get into the mix.
John is totally ruthless, able to take care of himself in any situation, and has a soft streak few people know about. He’s completely loyal and responsible, which is why he’s going after Rudzak, the villain. Rudzak killed several of John’s employees as a way to torture him, and John has vowed that he will get him.
Make no mistake – this novel is not romantic suspense; there just happens to be a romance in it. John and Sarah have a complex relationship, and when it turns into more that just business, it does happen a little suddenly. John and Sarah do make a good match though. She has to unbend and let him in, and he has to let up a little on control. I love the way he protects her fiercely, and the scene where he extracts her from a blackmail situation is one of my favorites.
There aren’t many surprises here. We know who the villain is, why he’s after John, and where the ultimate confrontation will be. The only unknown is when he will strike and how. The action doesn’t lag, and that’s what keeps the story moving. Clues keep turning up, and Sarah goes on rescue missions in the meantime.
Although I did mostly enjoy The Search there are two things I found disappointing. The first, and most major, is that the plot was not as intricate and tight as in the previous two books I mentioned. Those earlier books had me on the edge of my seat to see what would happen next. This one was more slowly paced and simpler. The second thing is that it’s short. At 298 pages, it’s only 50 pages longer than a recent series title I read, and the font size is much larger with more leading between the lines of type. I finished it in less than a day. As much as I anticipated this, I would have liked a little more story.
I hope that this is not the end of this series. I like these characters, and I enjoyed seeing Sarah, Eve and John again. Readers who liked the other two novels starring these characters will like this one, but if you’re new to Johansen, I’d start with The Face of Deception.