Friday, April 13, 2012

What Doesn't Kill You by Iris Johansen

What Doesn't Kill You by Iris Johansen, St. Martin's Press, $27.99 list price, hardcover.

In this spin-off from the author's Eve Duncan series in which readers were introduced to CIA agent Catherine Ling, more of Ling's story is told from the time she was abandoned at age four to survive on the streets of Hong Kong to her current mission to protect her mentor, Hu Chang.

Hu Chang, an apothecary expert who is known for creating potions that can miraculously heal or mysteriously kill, has created an assassin's dream - a poison that is completely untraceable and easily administered. Some will resort to anything, including murder, to get their hands on it.  Catherine is called in by the CIA to get the potion and protect Hu Chang even though it means facing her most formidable enemy yet who will not stop until he has the formula and both she and Hu Chang are dead. 

Ling also finds herself partnered with another operative, John Gallo, whom she is attracted to and has worked with in the past, but she must keep her distance emotionally so that she can concentrate on the mission at hand.  The attraction between the two builds in this story as does the complicated relationship between Ling and Hu Chang.  Neither is completely resolved, leaving it open for another story featuring these characters. 

Parts of this storyline move more slowly but necessarily so as readers are told the details of Ling's past which explain her present life and choices.  Once that is covered, however, the pace picks up and is everything I expected from this author.  I did enjoy learning more about the main character and hope this leads to a new series.

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