Body of Lies (Eve Duncan Series #4)

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Eve Duncan, the signature character of #1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen, thought her past was long buried. Until she finds herself tracking a killer so deceptive he leaves no trace behind—except for his victims.
Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan has been summoned to Baton Rouge by a high-ranking government official to identify the remains of an unknown murder victim. Eve wants nothing to do with the project. She has finally ...
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Eve Duncan, the signature character of #1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen, thought her past was long buried. Until she finds herself tracking a killer so deceptive he leaves no trace behind—except for his victims.
Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan has been summoned to Baton Rouge by a high-ranking government official to identify the remains of an unknown murder victim. Eve wants nothing to do with the project. She has finally found peace from her own tragic past, living a quiet life with Atlanta detective Joe Quinn and her adopted daughter, Jane. Then a stunning series of seemingly unrelated events turns Eve’s new world upside down.
Now, in a special government facility, she takes on the project of identifying the victim’s skeleton. But she hasn’t even begun when another death occurs. Someone totally ruthless, who can strike anywhere at any time and with seeming immunity, is determined to put a halt to her work, her life, and the lives of those she loves. Eve has stumbled onto a chilling conspiracy. There is only one person who can give her the devastating truth . . . and he’s already dead.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Eve Duncan sculpts death. A forensic sculptor, Eve painstakingly transforms the skulls of murder victims into the faces of identifiable people. A quiet, reflective woman, she lives far from the violence that brings her subjects to her attention. But one call from Baton Rouge changes all that. A high-intensity psychological thriller by the bestselling author of Final Target and The Search.
From the Publisher
“Iris Johansen keeps the reader intrigued with complex characters and plenty of plot twists. The story moves so fast, you’ll be reading the epilogue before you notice.” —People

“Johansen pushes the gender boundary in popular fiction, offering up that rarity: a woman’s novel for men.”—Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan is neither the cleverest fictional female detective nor the most original, but the meticulous care she devotes to her profession despite the emotional turmoil in her life makes her highly sympathetic. Here, she is tricked into leaving her adopted daughter, Jane, and cop boyfriend, Joe Quinn, to go to Baton Rouge. An influential senator and a fratricidal psychopath want her to work in a remote bayou to identify a battered skull, which may be all that remains of former senatorial candidate Harold Bentley. Duncan tries to reconstruct the skull's features, but it's hard to focus when someone has just tried to poison you and may be on his way to blow up your family. Duncan and wisecracking Sean Galen, hired by her Atlanta friends to protect her, are soon joined by potbellied reporter Bill Nathan, while in the shadows lurks Jules Hebert, a dangerous man of many disguises. First, Duncan's cook dies, then the cook's son, and then lies and dead bodies begin to pile up as Duncan struggles to finish the reconstruction and forgive Quinn for concealing the truth about her dead daughter, Bonnie. A barely credible anti-environment global conspiracy known only as the Cabal drives villains and good guys alike to violence as the story nears its explosive climax at an ex-president's funeral. Prolific bestselling author Johansen (Final Target) builds suspense by thrusting Duncan simultaneously into the unknown and back into the arms of her family in a romantic thriller whose plot may not stand much probing, but whose humanity keeps the reader rooting for its heroine every step of the way. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
A forensic sculptor who carefully reconstructs images of the dead, Eve Duncan suspects that the government is lying about her latest case. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Eve Duncan, considered one of the leading forensic sculptor artists in the United States, refuses to accept a job reconstructing a skull even though the pressing offer is made by Senator Melton. When her adopted daughter is threatened by Melton's henchman, Eve reluctantly agrees to the job. Almost as soon as she begins her work, she barely escapes an attempt on her life, and two people she has recently been associated with are killed. From this point on, Eve, her family, and her friends begin fighting for their lives against a group of powerful, evil world leaders known as the Cabal. Events take the characters from Georgia to Louisiana and into Florida. Johansen describes each location in detail, adding atmosphere and mood to the story, especially when depicting an eerie old church, and, later, a bayou. Several murders, bombings, and quick escapes flavor the story with chills and thrills and keep the action spinning along. Johansen adds a bit of romance, too, as Eve and Detective Joe Quinn try to survive while they attempt to piece their own relationship back together. Eve's daughter is outspoken, practical, and full of life's exuberance, adding another dimension and contrast. Lots of action, strong characters, and some spooky settings make this an entertaining and fast read.-Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A forensic sculptor still searches for her murdered daughter's face in every skull she reconstructs. Like any grieving mother, Eve Duncan hopes for closure-and she's overcome when it turns out that a child's skeleton found in the woods wasn't Bonnie's after all. Her true love Joe, an Atlanta police detective, meant well when he led her to believe otherwise; and Eve had found solace in tending the little grave and headstone until after its desecration by an unknown vandal-and after a laboratory DNA report, sent anonymously. Eve is compelled to leave Joe and her 12-year-old adopted daughter Jane to mull things over-and take an unusual assignment in Louisiana: Senator Kendal Melton wants some human remains reconstructed. Could they belong to his former rival for the Senate, Harold Bently, long missing and presumed dead? Eve is escorted to an old plantation house and left alone with cook Marie Letaux. Marie seems friendly enough-but could the Cajun food she prepares be . . . poisoned? Eve begins to feel sick as she enters the spooky old church in Baton Rouge where the senator wants her to work. Say, what's in that huge coffin? Could it be the corpse of Etienne, unwary brother of the villainous Jules Herbert, who's mixed up in all this somehow? Eve blacks out, and here's where the plot sickens: various members of a mysterious group known as the Cabal may be planning to blow up a gigantic dam in China, drowning millions of innocents, all because-it seems-a renegade environmentalist may be intent on promoting his own fuel-cell development program. But why such slaughter? And is Harold Bently really dead or just pretending? Fortunately for Eve, her lost child's ghost perches on the windowsillnow and then to help answer these and other burning questions. Elementary prose studded with innumerable cliches. But the convoluted storyline of this, Johansen's sixtieth novel (Final Target, 2001, etc.), is sure to please faithful fans.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553582147
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/4/2003
  • Series: Eve Duncan Series, #4
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 240,001
  • Product dimensions: 6.86 (w) x 4.24 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Iris Johansen
Iris Johansen is the New York Times bestselling author of many novels, including Killer Dreams, On the Run, Countdown, Firestorm, Fatal Tide, Dead Aim, and No One to Trust. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia.


After her two children left home for college, Iris Johansen decided to devote her new found free time to writing. Since she loved reading romance novels, she penned a love story, and found to her surprise that "I was just as voracious a writer as I was a reader." During the 1980s, her name was emblazoned on dozens of slender volumes featuring spirited adventuresses, passionate mystery men, and smoldering love scenes. These days, Johansen is one of a posse of former romance writers dominating the New York Times bestseller lists.

Early on in her career, Johansen developed the habit of following characters from book to book, sometimes introducing minor characters in one novel who then become major figures in another. She developed families, relationships, and even fictional countries in her romance novels, which "stretched the boundaries of the standard formulas," according to Barbara E. Kemp in Twentieth-Century Romance and Historical Writers. In 1991, Johansen broke out of category romance (a term for short books written to conform to the length, style and subject matter guidelines for a publisher's series) with The Wind Dancer, a romantic-suspense novel set in 16th-century Italy. She followed it with two sequels, Storm Winds and Reap the Wind, to form a trilogy, then wrote several more stand-alone romance novels before The Ugly Duckling was published in 1996.

The Ugly Duckling was her first book to be released in hardcover -- and the first to significantly broaden her readership beyond her romance fan base. Since then, Johansen's plots have gotten tighter and more suspense-driven; critics have praised her "flesh-and-blood characters, crackling dialogue and lean, suspenseful plotting" (Publishers Weekly). Some of her most popular books feature forensic sculptor Eve Duncan, who first appeared in The Face of Deception in 1998. But Johansen seems equally comfortable with male protagonists, and her books have crossed the gender division that often characterizes popular fiction. Indeed, Publishers Weekly called The Search "that rarity: a woman's novel for men."

Good To Know

Johansen rewrote the ending of Reap the Wind for its reissue in 2002. "I couldn't resist tightening and changing the climax to correspond with my changed ideas on plot structure but the story is basically the same," she explained in a Q&A on her publisher's web site.

Many of her early novels were written for the Loveswept series from Bantam Books; bestselling authors Sandra Brown and Kay Hooper also wrote for the series.

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Read an Excerpt

Sarah Bayou, Louisiana
1:05 a.m. October 4

The flatboat glided slowly through the bayou.

Too slowly, Jules Hebert thought tensely. He had deliberately chosen a flatboat rather than a motorboat because it would be less obtrusive at this time of night, but he had not counted on this case of nerves.

Keep calm. The church was just up ahead.

“It will be fine, Jules,” Etienne called softly as he wielded the oars. “You worry too much.”

And his brother, Etienne, didn’t worry enough, Jules thought in despair. Ever since childhood it had been Jules who was the serious one, the one who had to accept the responsibility while Etienne ambled along through life with endearing blitheness. “You arranged for the men to be waiting at the church?”

“Of course.”

“And you told them nothing?”

“Only that they would be paid well for the work. And I parked the motorboat to bring them where you told me to.”


“It will all go very easily.” Etienne smiled. “I promise you, Jules. Would I let you down?”

Not intentionally. The affection between them was too strong. They had been through too much together. “No offense. Just asking, little brother.” Jules stiffened as he saw the dark looming silhouette of the ancient stone church in the faint moonlight as they rounded the corner. It had been deserted for over ten years and exuded dampness and decay. His gaze flew to the sparsely scattered plantation houses on either side of the bayou.

No one. No sign of anyone stirring.

“I told you,” Etienne said. “Luck is with us. How could it be otherwise? Fortune is always on the side of the right.”

That had not been Jules’s experience, but he wouldn’t argue with Etienne. Not tonight.

Jules jumped out of the boat as they reached the landing, and the four men Etienne had hired streamed onto the boat.

“Be careful with it,” Jules said. “For God’s sake, don’t drop it.”

“I’ll help them.” Etienne leaped forward. “Christ, it’s heavy.” He put his massive shoulder beneath one corner. “On the count of three.”

With great care they lifted the huge black coffin onto the landing.

Lake Cottage Atlanta, Georgia


Eve Duncan woke with a start, her heart pounding.

“What is it?” Joe Quinn asked drowsily. “Something wrong?”

“No.” Eve swung her feet to the floor. “I just had a bad dream. I think I’ll get a glass of water.” She moved to the bathroom. “Go back to sleep.”

Good heavens, she was actually shaking. How stupid could she get? She splashed water on her face and took a few sips of water before going back into the bedroom.

The lamp on the nightstand was on and Joe was sitting up in bed. “I told you to go back to sleep.”

“I don’t want to go to sleep. Come here.”

She went into his arms and cuddled close. Safety. Love. Joe. “Want to make love?”

“The thought occurred to me. Maybe later. Right now, I want to know about your nightmare.”

“People do have bad dreams, Joe. It’s not that uncommon.”

“But you haven’t had one in a long time. I thought you were over them.” His arms tightened around her. “I want them to be over.”

She knew he did, and she knew he tried desperately to give her the security and contentment that he thought would rid her of them. But Joe should know better than anyone that the nightmare would never entirely go away. “Just shut up and go back to sleep.”

“Was it about Bonnie?”

“No.” Eve felt a ripple of guilt. Someday she had to tell him why the dreams of Bonnie were no longer painful. But not yet. Even after this last year with him, she still wasn’t ready. Someday.

“The new skull? You’ve been working hard on it. Maybe too hard?”

“I’m almost done. It’s Carmelita Sanchez, Joe. I should be able to notify her parents in a couple days.” Then there would be closure and, perhaps, peace for them. “And you know my work never brings me anything but satisfaction. No bad dreams there.” Just sadness and pity and a driving passion to bring the lost ones home. “Stop probing. Bad dreams don’t have to have deep psychological implications. This was just a crazy, disjointed . . . It was probably something I ate. Jane’s pizza was a little too rich for…”

“What was it about?”

Joe wasn’t going to give up. He would pick at the subject until everything was out in the open. “A coffin. Okay? I was walking toward this coffin, and it scared me.”

“Who was in the coffin?” He paused. “Me? Jane?”

“Stop trying to read something into it. It was a closed coffin.”

“Then why were you scared?”

“It was a dream. For heaven’s sake, I deal with dead people every day of my life. It’s perfectly natural I should have an occasional macabre…”

“Why were you scared?”

“Drop it. It’s over.” She pulled his head down and kissed him. “Stop being a protective ass. The only therapy I want from you right now is strictly physical.”

He went still, resisting. Then he relaxed and moved over her. “Well, if you insist. I suppose I’ll have to be a gentleman and let you seduce me.”

Eve was surprised. She knew how stubborn Joe could be. She smiled and gently tugged at his hair. “Damn right, you will.”

“We’ll talk about the coffin later. . . .”

Sarah Bayou

The coffin was in place in the altar of the church.

Jules bent to check the pedestal beneath it to make sure it was sturdy enough to bear the weight of the specially reinforced airtight coffin. He’d had it built to his own specifications and had been assured there would be no problem, but it was his responsibility and he was determined not to fail. Nothing must damage the coffin’s precious contents.

“I’ve paid them off. They’re on their way back,” Etienne said from the doorway. He came toward Jules, his gaze fixed on the coffin. “It looks so strange there. . . . We did it, didn’t we?”

Jules nodded. “Yes, we did it.”

Etienne was silent a moment. “I know you were angry with me, but now you understand, don’t you?”

“Yes, I understand.”

“Good. Well, here it is. We did it together.” Etienne put his arm affectionately around Jules’s shoulders. “It gives me a good feeling. You, too?”

“No.” Jules closed his eyes as the pain surged through him. “Not a good feeling.”

“Because you worry too much. But it’s over now.”

“Not quite.” Jules opened eyes that were full of tears. “Have I ever told you how much I love you, what a good brother you’ve been to me?”

Etienne laughed. “If you had, I would have been the one who was worried. You’re not a man who...” His eyes widened in shock as he saw the gun in his brother’s hand. “What are you...?”

Jules shot him in the heart.

Disbelief was frozen on Etienne’s face as he fell to the floor.

Jules couldn’t believe it, either. Dear God, let him take that moment back.

No, for he would only have to do it again.

Jules fell to his knees beside Etienne and gathered him in his arms. Tears ran down his face as he rocked him back and forth. Little brother. Little brother . . .

Control. He had one other task to perform before he could allow himself to grieve. The motorboat taking the men away from the church should be out of the bayou and on the widest part of the river by now.

He fumbled in his pocket for the switch and pressed the red button. He could not hear the explosion, but he knew it had happened. He had set the charge himself and he never allowed himself to make a mistake. There would be no survivors and no evidence.

It was done.

Jules turned back to Etienne and tenderly brushed the hair from his forehead. Sleep, little brother. He prayed Etienne was at peace. He was glad it was too dim in the church to see the shock and pain frozen on Etienne’s face.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 86 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 87 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2007

    Body of Lies

    A lover¿s betrayal. . . A killer on the loose. . . ---------------- Eve Duncan was actually happy. She had a man who loved her, an adoptive daughter as great as her own, and her dead daughter¿s bones were found and safely buried. But then a letter in the mail opens her eyes to a secret her boyfriend, Joe Quinn, kept for two full years. Now she wants away from him, and when a job opportunity in a different state presents itself, she packs her bags and leaves. On her first night in Louisiana, someone tries to kill her, and they won¿t give up until she¿s dead! Will she uncover the secret in time? Or will death silence her? ----------------------- When I picked up this book I wasn¿t surprised it got high on every bestsellers list. It was moving a mile a minute and between the hired assassins, secrets, deaths, and conspiracies, I knew I was reading a great novel. And then, after chapter 5, the book came to a stop and decided to creep at turtle speed. The character of Eve Duncan became uncharacteristically naive and immature, while her 12 year old adoptive daughter Jane was acting like a 50 year old, smart and mature beyond her years. The book dragged all until chapter 12. Once chapter 12 begins, the book takes flight once again and the bombs (literally) start going off. The ending was good and though I thought it was predictable, it was still somewhat enjoyable. It wasn¿t as good as the first two books in that series, but it was better then the third. Unlike most of her plots that come out of nowhere, this one had some real basis because fuel cells and the Cabal (a secret society) really exist. ------------------- If you want to read this book, I advise that you first check out the first two books in the series ¿The Face of Deception¿ which is about a political conspiracy so big, you will not see the final twist coming! And ¿The Killing Game¿ with a serial killer plot that¿s bound to shock! This book was rather slow compared to the first two in the series.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2005

    Boring Boring Boring

    Bought the abridged CD version and still it is one of the worst I have heard of her books. Eve Duncan is plain stupid in her actions towards her lover and protector and acts like no normal human being would in the same circumstance. Could not wait to get to the end and get this book out of my collection

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    3 out of 5

    I give this book three out of five stars. The characters are detailed nicely. The plot was ok, not confusing but still kind of odd. The writing style is very nice, as with all other books from Iris Johansen. It is very original. The book cover describes the beginning of the story and close to the end.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2004

    Could be alot better

    This has to be one of the worst iris johansen books ever. it is very boring i had to force myself to finish it and i have never had to do that befor when ever reading a iris johansen book and well this book spent time on things that really where not important. it seemed to be more focused on the main characters relationship problems and this is not a romance book this is surpose to be a suspens book a intence and a page turner which i might add i did not want to turn a single page after page 100 that is how bad this book is.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2013

    Page 149. I quit. It is so slow and the character Eve is so ch

    Page 149. I quit. It is so slow and the character Eve is so childish, it is barely believable. When there are so many good books out there, why struggle to stay interested in this one. I am quitting and moving on to another author.

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  • Posted December 31, 2012

    good one

    love the series, keeps you on the edge of your chair, later books in series are too short though so beware as costs only go up--still, am looking forward to next book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    Love this book

    I love Iris Jahansen books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    This is a must read series.

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  • Posted April 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Heated Adventure

    Set in a steamy bayou of Louisianna, this novel is so hot to touch you will get scorched by the excitement by the time you finish. Johansen dives right into the thriller featuring Eve Duncan, forensics sculpter as she gets thrust into a global conspiracy that is revealed only in the last few intense scenes. She also mixes in some very well done relationships issues that are better than some of her other attempts at relationships. I also give Johansen credit for putting in some very twisty plot curves. Let me just say you get burned twice and you believe you won't fall for it again, but she suckers you twice. If you have a free weekend, just let Iris take you on a quick and bloody ride with a body count higher than a slasher film - but slightly less gory.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2006

    Interesting plot...

    It was a very good plot. It started out real well, but I had to skim through some parts since it seemed like she dragged some stuff out a little bit. This is my first Iris Johanson book. But it was a pretty good read as I would look up this character's other books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2005


    Started out great, then i ended up skimming thru the last 150 pages. The last page was very well written, great ending.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2004

    Mystery Romance Mess

    Body of Lies has a better than average twisted plot spoiled by a confusing mix of mystery and B movie romance. The characters are alpha (fe)male and the dialogue is childishly preachy and unnatural. I felt like I was reading a Bette Davis movie script directed by Barbara Cartland. And just like any attempt to jumble pink with blue, the results are a murky gray that neither please nor persuade anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2004

    love BODY OF LIES

    i think this is a great book. Eve Duncan is a charecter that everyone can sympathize with. Shes someone that you will really care about. Body of Lies is a great book, it will keep you quessing until the end. the characters are complex and interesting

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2004

    A book that will stick in your hands!

    I find this was a book that was hard to put down. I kept reading and reading,I wanted to see what was going to happen next. I find it hard to just sit and read a lot of times without falling to sleep, but not with this one. Who was it that they found and how did they end up dead? there is a lot of suspence in this book and you will love the end. I highly recomend this book for those who find it hard to get throught one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2004


    This was a great book. Never wanted to put it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2003

    Not exactly Pulitzer material

    Eve is one of those tiresome defiant heroines who will never take any advice 'stay here - No I won't'. To add some interest while reading, try counting the 'stiffeneds' - half a point for a 'tensed'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2003

    Terrible Book!

    Sorry, but I could barely get through this book. The writing is stiff and the suspense is just not there. When you don't care if the heroine gets blown up, you know it's not working!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2003

    What a mystery?

    ¿Body of Lies,¿ by Iris Johansen, is about a woman who decides to become a forensic sculptor after the tragic disappearance of her daughter. Eve Duncan is the best around. She is chosen by a group of people to reconstruct a mystery skull. (Forensic sculptors reconstruct the skulls of the dead to determine identity.) The circumstances are strange, she is not allowed to talk to anyone about her project, and is required to do all her work in an abandoned church. When she starts getting some ideas about the identity of the skull, the men in charge of the operation come after her, her husband, their adopted daughter and anyone else with involvement to the case. She uncovers a mystery. These men want to know if the inventor of a new kind of energy is really dead. They want to take credit for his work and they will get away with it if she doesn¿t shut them down first. The chapters would always start the readers out feeling a little confused, but then everything ties together very well. The characters seem very realistic, and the emotions expressed helps to convey the mood of the book. This book is a fast read. Its suspense keeps readers enthralled from one cover to the other. Johansen¿s use of language and vocabulary keeps the text interesting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2003

    suspense seeker

    It was my first book by Mrs.Johansen. I finished it in 2 days. Greeeat plot. I 've also read 'Final Target', and I plan to read all her books. Thank u, Mrs.Johansen.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2003

    Another Excellent Read

    This was my third Iris book and I have not been disappointed yet. She is one of my favorite authors. Body of Lies has all the great twists, turns, and mysteries as do her other books. If you like suspense, READ THIS BOOK!

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 87 Customer Reviews

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