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Mirkat Always Reading

I'm always reading something, usually multiple books at a time.


Bonnie (Eve Duncan) - Iris Johansen

I am not a long-time reader of Johansen's who has read all of the "Eve" books. On the contrary, I bumped into the first book in the series--Eve--when I did one of my periodic keyword searches for "Playaway" books in my library's online catalog. I love these preloaded audio books that are compact enough that they are handy to take on my long runs (or counter the boredom of a treadmill run of any length!). So I listened to the "Eve" narrative without realizing until near the very end that I was only on part one of a trilogy. I was a bit miffed because I was intrigued enough to want to know how the mystery would unravel but not especially impressed with the writing. The characters are not especially well-rounded and sometimes it is hard to distinguish one character's personality from another's. On top of that, Johansen has certain words and phrases she repeats ad nauseum. Characters constantly stiffen. Or they tighten various parts of their bodies--usually their lips, but sometimes their hands on a steering wheel or neck, or their arms around someone's body. Somewhat less often, they moisten their lips, mutter a curse, or twist their lips.

In any event, I was curious to read the resolution of series, so I ordered the next two books in the series from my library (and actually read them in print form). I actually thought that Quinn and Bonnie were somewhat better than Eve and would give them each 2.5 stars if possible. But I don't think they deserve to be rounded up to three.

If you are a long-time reader of the series and would like to find out what happened to Bonnie, I suggest skipping over the first two books in the trilogy and going right into Bonnie. Anything you need to know from the earlier two installments is either summarized or--believe it or not--copied and pasted. Yes, there are a couple of entire scenes that are simply repeated to fill in readers who have not read the first two books.

Some long-time readers of the "Eve" books have complained about the supernatural turn this trilogy has introduced. As noted above, I have not read the earlier books, but it seems they were more grounded in reality. If you are one of these readers who are not pleased with that route, I would suggest maybe sitting out the trilogy altogether and reading up on spoilers instead, since the "supernatural" element is really cranked up in Bonnie. I did have the impression that Johansen was laying the groundwork for future, post-Bonnie-investigation installments in her series.

I have some mixed feelings about the resolution. In case you are worried--yes, you will finally find out how and why Bonnie died. Without giving anything away, I will just say it might be just a little too neat and pretty. But in a way I can also appreciate the sentiment that Johansen was going for, and I imagine her fans might be highly curious about reading future novels with a non-tormented Eve.

And because I'm a little freaky, I kept a tally of some of Johansen's most overused word choices. You might be curious to know that tightening of body parts occurred 22 times; 13 of these tightenings were performed by lips. Stiffening happened 27 times, and on 13 occasions, a character moistened his or her lips (they need to carry lip balm!). Oh, and there was one sentence that I wrote down just because it was such a clunker. On page 47, Catherine says this to Eve: "You've been trained in police sketching as part of your training." Let's see everything that's wrong with that: (1) redundancy (trained as part of your training?); (2) unnatural dialogue; and (3) Eve knows her own background and doesn't need to be told. Why not "Weren't you trained in police sketching?"