Passion, power, and political intrigue clash with deadly results in Iris Johansen’s latest tale of romantic suspense, Final Target. At the heart of this fast-paced thriller is the seven-year-old daughter of the president of the United States, who has witnessed something so awful it’s left her in a catatonic state. Now, the woman who hopes to save her must trust her heart and her life to a mysterious man with a nefarious reputation.
When masked intruders break into a presidential stronghold and try to kidnap the president’s daughter, Cassie, the child witnesses several brutal murders. She survives, thanks to the efforts of Michael Travis, a man who skirts the law and makes a living in the international underworld, but the shock leaves her dwelling in a state somewhere between consciousness and death. The president puts his daughter in the hands of Dr. Jessica Riley, who helped her younger sister, Melissa, recover from a similar condition a few years earlier. Though fully recovered, Melissa’s bout with catatonia left her with a curious side effect: the ability to merge her mind with the consciousness of others who are catatonic.
As Cassie’s condition worsens, her only hope lies with two people: Melissa, who can get into Cassie’s mind, and Travis, whose presence has a calming affect on the child’s life-threatening seizures. But there’s a problem: Travis has a host of deadly assassins breathing down his neck and isn’t inclined to stay, yet his conscience won’t let him desert the child, either. So he takes Cassie, Jessica, and Melissa with him, sneaking them out of the country and into Europe, where he becomes embroiled in a deadly game of international intrigue. With the president’s forces now breathing down his neck in the belief that he has kidnapped Cassie, and his attentions increasingly drawn toward Melissa, whom he has come to care for, Travis becomes distracted enough to make a deadly miscalculation. The tragedy that results will have a monumental effect on everyone involved and may mean the end of any hopes they hold for the future.
Johansen is a master at keeping her readers on edge, and Final Target is a perfect example of this master at work. The pace zips, the plot twists, and each turn of the page brings a new surprise. But the best part of Johansen’s latest effort is her characteristically explosive mix of chilling terror and heated passions. (Beth Amos)