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She witnesses death through the eye of her camera. Now a ...
She witnesses death through the eye of her camera. Now a relentless killer is focused on her. A celebrated photojournalist, Alex Graham has seen it all—but her latest assignment has forced her across a dangerous line. What happens when a reporter does more than just report? She has recorded some of the most tragic and heartbreaking of catastrophes, everything from natural disasters to infamous acts of terror. Her experiences have left her forever marked with the human side of tragedy. So when a dam breaks in Arapahoe Junction, Colorado, Alex is once more at the site doing more than just snapping pictures—she is in the mud with a shovel digging for survivors.
What happens when the reporter becomes the story? Alex finds more than she bargained for. In one terrible instant, she is witness to a conspiracy that will stun a nation. The official story is just a cover-up for a truth so frightening, so unthinkable, anyone who threatens to reveal it must be silenced. Forever. And now that someone is Alex Graham.
The first attempt on her life is swift and brutal. Only barely escaping, she finds an ally in an improbable source. Billionaire financier John Logan has his own reasons for protecting Alex, and these reasons alone are likely to get her killed. Using his vast connections and influences, Logan assigns a bodyguard to protect her. Judd Morgan is the best covert commando in the business, and if anyone can keep Alex safe, it’s this quietly dangerous man. The problem is, Alex doesn’t want to be kept safe by Judd, whose checkered past has made him the target of an unseen assassin who dogs his every step.
"I know I'm late, dammit." Alex Graham's hand clenched on her cell phone. "I'll get those pictures to you as soon as I can."
"You'd get them to me sooner if you'd stop working in the rubble and start taking pictures of those rescue workers whose job it is to do it," Jim Karak said sarcastically. "Old news is no news, Alex. That dam broke almost a week ago and the magazine goes to press in two days."
"They're still digging survivors from the landslide caused by the dam break."
"Then you should be taking warm, heroic pictures instead of manning a shovel. You're breaking one of the cardinal rules. You're becoming part of the story."
"There may be people alive beneath that--" It was no use. Karak had one priority and that was the story. "You'll get the pictures." She hung up and leaned back against the wall and rubbed her temple. God, she was tired. She'd be lucky if Karak didn't call her back and tell her to find another magazine to publish her work. She wasn't being fair and certainly not professional. If she hadn't had a decent track record before this, Karak would have dumped her days ago.
"Problems?" Sarah Logan and her dog, Monty, were standing in the doorway of the trailer.
"A few." Alex grimaced as she rose to her feet. "It seems I'm not doing my job. I'm not focusing on what's important."
"You could have fooled me." Sarah filled Monty's bowl with water and sat down on the floor beside him while he drank. "We found a baby alive in that hellhole this morning. I'd say that was pretty important."
"Me too." Alex smiled. "Screw Karak."
Sarah didn't return her smile. "I don't want you to lose your job, Alex. I know how much your work means to you. There are other volunteers out there helping to dig."
Alex lifted her brows. "Oh, then you have too much help?"
"You know there's no such thing in a disaster like this. We have to work fast or-- Okay, we need you. I just don't want you to be hurt. God knows there's enough pain in this world."
And Sarah Logan witnessed a good deal of it, Alex thought. She and her golden retriever, Monty, were in a canine search-and-rescue team, and Alex had run across her on half a dozen disaster sites during the last five years. In the horror of natural and man-made tragedies, a strong bond of friendship had been forged. "I'll be okay."
"Your editor is right. This isn't your job." She shook her head. "Look at you. You're covered in dirt from head to toe. Your hands are bleeding from that shovel and you haven't slept in twenty-four hours."
Sarah ignored the question. "And it's more than your hands that are bleeding. Take a step back, Alex. It will break you if you get too close to it. Believe me, I know."
"It's not as though I haven't been to other disaster sites."
"But then you weren't as involved. You were taking photographs and helping in the first-aid tent. You weren't uncovering the bodies of people you hoped would be alive."
She didn't want to think of those bodies. There had been too many in the last few days. "Yet you do it all the time. You could stay home and live soft and yet, every time there's a call, you and Monty are off and running. I'm surprised your husband doesn't raise hell."
"He doesn't like it, but he understands." Sarah frowned. "But we're not talking about me. I've watched you work and there's no one more dedicated. You love what you do and you've told me a dozen times that your job is to tell the story. Don't get sidetracked."
"I'm not sidetracked. I'll get it done." She bent down and stroked Monty's soft fur. "I just can't-- I'll get it done."
Sarah stared at her, troubled. "I don't think you should accept assignments like this anymore. I've seen it coming since Ground Zero, but it's getting worse. You've . . . changed."
Steel and concrete and that stinging smoke that seemed to cover the world like a shroud.
"Ground Zero changed all of us."
Sarah and Monty crawling among the ruins while Alex watched helplessly.
Sarah and Alex holding desperately to each other while the tears poured down both their faces.
Sarah nodded. "But I had someone to go home to while I healed. I should have made you come with me."
"Life had to go on. I had to go on." She shrugged. "And if I took some baggage with me, then that's the way it had to be. I'm usually okay. This one is rough. It's brought back too many memories."
"But it's not the same," Sarah said gently. "We've found survivors here, Alex. Seventy-two so far."
"That's not enough," she whispered. "It's never enough. I can't stand by and let--" She cleared her throat and changed the subject. "Is it your rest time?"
Sarah shook her head. "I just had to get Monty some water. My canteen was empty. We still have a few hours to work until dark. It's less dangerous for Monty if he can see clearly what's out there." She paused. "But we've just had two bits of good news. The President is coming here next week."
"It's about time. Vice President Shepard was here the day after the dam break."
"Yeah, I was impressed. But it's when the President shows up that FEMA and all the aid organizations get a boost."
"That's good." She made a face. "Maybe I can convince Karak I was only waiting for Andreas to show up so that I could give him a really big story." She shook her head. "Nah, I'm no good at lying. Besides, security is so tight around the President right now that I wouldn't get within a mile of him."
"I'm surprised he's coming at all. There was a bombing at the embassy in Mexico City last night."
"The same terrorist group?"
Sarah nodded. "Matanza claimed it. And an effigy of Andreas was left burning on the lawn."
"Bastards." It was the third embassy attack by the Guatemalan terrorist group in the last six months. If it wasn't the Middle East, it was Guatemala or Venezuela. Juan Cordoba and his Matanza group had always been rabid revolutionaries in their own country, but now--fueled by drug money and Al Qaeda support--they had grown powerful enough to take aim at Andreas and the administration that was trying to stabilize the party in power. It seemed impossible to Alex that there had ever been a time when her country hadn't been surrounded by terror and ugliness and threats. Yet she could remember a childhood filled with trust and innocence and the belief that nothing really bad could come knocking on her door. The memory filled her with frustration and anger and immense sadness. "I hope your second bit of good news is better than your first."
"Hey, you have to take the bitter with the sweet. At least Andreas isn't letting anyone scare him into ignoring people who need him. He should be safe enough visiting this site. All the evidence points to a natural disaster here." She smiled. "And the preliminary report on the ground on the other side of the dam says it appears to be fairly stable. They're sending some teams up there tomorrow morning to do a final check. When the landslide buried this area, they were afraid the ground on the other side might be compromised."
"Jesus. That's all these poor people need. Another landslide."
"They tried to evacuate everyone from that area just for safety's sake. But it looks like they can go back home." Sarah stroked Monty's head. "Time to go back to work, boy." She stood up and headed for the door. "And it's a good time for you to take some photographs."
"How bossy can you get?" Alex followed her and stood in the doorway, gazing out at the disaster site. Every time she looked at the devastation it made her sick. The Arapahoe Dam had broken five days ago and the water had rushed down into the valley below, killing over a hundred twenty people. But the series of landslides caused by the explosive force of the water on either side of the valley was the horror they were dealing with now. The rock slides had covered the homes and businesses of Arapahoe Junction under tons of rock, and the area was still so unstable the rescue had to be done painstakingly by hand, not machine. Her glance shifted across the jagged wreck of the dam to the hills on the other side. The rocky terrain looked blessedly sturdy in a shaky world.
Christ, she was glad there wasn't going to be another horror piled on top of this one.
"Stop looking at it," Sarah called back to her. "Take those photos."
Sure, take the pictures. Ignore the fact that there might be more people alive under those rocks.
"Promise me," Sarah said.
"I promise. I'll take the damn photos. I'll get them and send them out today." She grabbed her shovel, which was leaning against the trailer. As Sarah had said, there was still light and the job on this side of the gorge was monumental. "But not now. I can't do it now. . . ."
It was late afternoon when Alex stopped working and went back to the trailer to get her camera.
She'd cut it close and she'd have to work fast to get the photos before dark. Well, if she didn't get all she needed she'd improvise.
A helicopter was descending at the first-aid tent a few hundred yards away from the trailer and she waved at Ken Nader, the pilot, as he got out of the aircraft.
He waved back and called, "I brought you that special lens to replace the one you said you damaged."
"Thanks. I don't need it right now. I'll be over later to get it." She turned and started up the hill.
The hillside was still crawling with men and women carefully picking away at the rocks. She'd gotten to know a few of them this week as they'd worked side by side. Janet Delsey was a resident of the town that had been buried beneath the landslide. She'd been in Denver when the tragedy happened. She worked in the local library, and her parents had not been found yet.
Alex focused and took the picture.
Bill Adams was a truck driver who had been passing through when he'd heard about the dam. He'd parked his rig and volunteered to help.
She snapped the picture.
Carey Melway was a college student, full of idealism and hope, who had come down from Salt Lake City. Alex had watched him change from a kid to an adult in these last few days.
She took the picture.
She took four rolls of film in the next hour. The volunteers, the canine rescue teams, the flooded gorge.
"You left it a little late." Sarah was carefully making her way down the side of the mountain, followed by Monty. "Are you going to have enough material?"
"Too much." She looked at Janet Delsey again. "Do you think she has any chance of finding her parents alive?"
"A chance, if we can get to them in time. At least this isn't a mud slide. There are pockets of air beneath those rocks." She motioned for Monty. "I have to get down and feed him his dinner and vitamins. Are you almost finished?"
Alex shook her head. "I've got most of the human-interest shots, but I need a photograph that tells the big story, the scope of the rescue operation."
She waved her hand. "Good luck. You'll need it."
Sarah was right. It was difficult to encompass the full depth of a tragedy when you were on top of it.
On top of it.
Her gaze flew across the gorge. The terrain was higher there and it probably afforded a view of both the flooded valley and the workers laboring on the landslide. Sarah had said they were ninety percent sure the ground over there was safe.
If she could get across the gorge.
She couldn't walk across it or swim across it. Which left only one other means of transportation.
She turned and hurried down the slope toward the first-aid tent.
The helicopter circled and then dipped closer to the trees. "If that ground looks even a little wobbly, I'm not leaving you here," Ken Nader told Alex grimly. "You got the aerial shots. That should be enough for you. I don't know why I let you talk me into this."
"Because you're a good guy and you knew I had to have these pictures. And you can see it's safe here. The worst that can happen to me is if I fall down that slope into the floodwaters." She grinned as she stowed her camera in her backpack. "And if I'm that clumsy, then I deserve to drown. Just go back to the first-aid tent in case they have an emergency and pick me up in an hour."
"You'd better be here." He set down in a glade in the trees. "I don't like this, Alex."
"It will be fine. I'm not stupid. I don't take chances." She jumped out of the helicopter. "Thanks, Ken." She adjusted her backpack with her equipment, waved, and turned away. "One hour . . ."
It took her fifteen minutes before she could get out of the forest and start climbing the hill toward the huge red rock on the pinnacle she'd seen from the other side of the gorge.
The sun was going down and twilight was hovering.
Hurry. Get up there before it's fully dark.
She was quickly loading and adjusting her camera in the last few minutes before she reached the pinnacle.
Now, if she had enough light . . .
Oh, my God.
The entire valley was spread before her. The tops of houses drowned in the floodwaters below. Moving lanterns and floodlights dotted the site of the landslide. Men and women looking small and helpless as ants trying to stop the death and destruction.
She drew a deep, shaky breath, raised the camera, and took the picture.
Then she took another and another.
She didn't stop until it was fully dark and she could see only the lanterns and floodlights.
How long had she been here? She wondered as she repacked her equipment and started down the hill. Probably too long, but she hadn't heard Ken's helicopter, so she still had time to get to the glade. He'd wait anyway. In spite of his threat, he wouldn't leave her here.
Her pace quickened when she heard the rotors of the helicopter. Strange, she hadn't seen the aircraft lights when she'd been looking out over the gorge. She supposed it could have been circling and come in from the east, but she couldn't--
Posted July 10, 2012
Posted October 8, 2011
Posted August 17, 2011
Posted February 6, 2008
Take a pass on Dead Aim unless you're on a long plane flight with nothing better to do. The plot is too convoluted, not well thought out. The characters are flat and one dimensional. This short 280 pages novel couldn't decide if it's romance or thriller. So in the end it's neither. Skip this one if there is almost anything else to read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 22, 2007
Posted January 7, 2006
I totally loved this book!It has a lot of suspence in it.Iris totally outdid herself when she wrote this book.I really recomend it!!!!!!!!!You will NOT be dissapoined!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 20, 2005
I have been a fan of Ms. Johansen and her stories for some time, and I do my best to keep the books in order so that I do not miss the stories of the recurring characters. I must say that although Dead Aim was indeed enjoyable, fast paced and full of story, it lacked some of the detail that I had become accustomed to with this writer. I was also disappointed with the ending, I felt that it was rushed. Where Ms. Johansen would normally describe in detail the last few major scenes, she failed to detail the final scenes of struggle between Morgan, Runne and Alex. It was a good book nonetheless, I had just become accustomed to being right there with the characters as they battle their final demons. I would highly recommend No One To Trust, to support my opinion.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 18, 2004
This book was a extreamly good book i feel. It was the first Iris Johansen book that led me to read all of her others including bodies of lies unfourtnantly. Although she may have had a bit of a bad spell with that book this book is a very good book that will not dissapoint you.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 14, 2004
Iris Johansen was at the top of her game with books like The Killing Game, Ugly Duckling, Face Of Deception & Then You Die, but since the release of The Search her books have become boring with almost the same storyline. The Search was one of her shortest books which seem to be written in a rush to please Sarah & Monty fans. Well this book is just as boring, it just goes on & on until the last few chapters and then you only wish the book would end. Irish Johansen was one of my famous writers, but not any more. If your a regular fan you know what I mean. If your a first time reader I suggest you read her earlier books when she was one of the best.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 24, 2003
i had to struggle to finish this book and was dissapointed that it did not get better as I went along. The plot was a bit confusing and there were too many characters to keep track of. It was a little unrealistic due to the main characters always being able to escape not only the bad guys but also the entire FBI and police force. They always had a 'convenient' place to go and hide.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 1, 2003
Posted September 20, 2003
Posted July 26, 2003
I am very impressed with the writing style of this book. Johansen's mix of mystery, intrigue, romance and murder has brought out a compelling use of seductive power and relationships. The relationship between Alex and Morgan was electric and one that drew me in so much, that I could not sleep. I had to keep reading. The Judd Morgan character was so complex and inticing, that women everywhere will be looking for their real life Judd Morgan.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 13, 2003
I read about half of this book and could not finish. I just lost interest because it didn't seem to flow very well. There was really no character development and Ms. Johansen does a poor job giving you some good background information on the major players. The plot was easy enough to follow and it had a solid foundation for a good story. However, she should have shared a bit more details about personalities, physical descriptions, etc on the people in this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 23, 2003
This book is an awesome catch, its about 342 pages but it is definitly worth it. it took me about 2 weeks to read. After the first chapter your hooked. Johansen is undoubtedly my new favorite author. This book is exciting because it not boring 'backgound' paragraphs, as in what people were doing and how they were doing it, things the narrator would read. She wrote mostly dialog, so its easy to adapt to different roles in the book. Theres also a mini romance happening in this book that you don't expect. read it it's an awesome book! i would rate it 20 stars if i could..Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 2, 2003
Acclaimed stage actress Kate Burton gives a dynamite reading to the explosive new thriller by this always readable author. Iris Johansen pictures a new take on terrorism, bringing it evermore near to home and hearth. Alex Graham is an acclaimed photojournalist. Her achievements are many, and her work beyond reproach. Now she finds herself at a disaster site in Arapahoe Junction, Colorado. As she digs through debris side by side with other volunteers in a frantic search for survivors the common thought is that an earthquake is the most likely cause of this devastation. That's too pat an answer for Alex who discovers that the carnage was not caused by an unruly force of nature but was the result of an evil plot. This knowledge places her life in jeopardy. Furthermore, there is a conspiracy. Anyone who comes even close to the truth will never utter another word. By dint of sheer luck the first attempt on her life fails. She now finds herself under the wings of an unlikely protector - billionaire John Logan who assigns a bodyguard, tough, relentless Jidd Morgan, to make sure that Alex lives. However, Morgan has a few skeletons in his closet - bones that make someone want to dispose of him. How many wanna-be killers can Alex handle?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 15, 2003
Roving photojournalist Alex Graham has a problem with her chosen occupation - she spends more and more time hands on with the rescue efforts at the disaster sites than recording the chaos on film. When her efforts to hurriedly please her boss and take some sweeping pictures of a dam collapse lead her to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Graham is suddenly a target. The faces she has seen, and the words she has overheard put her on the run from people evil enough to manipulate seemingly natural disasters for personal gain. Her protector comes in the form of Morgan Judd, an ex commando who has been pulled into the personal protection business in exchange for some heat taken off him in bureaucratic circles. Judd's service past has made him a useful scapegoat for the powers that be, and the promise of a return to some semblance of a normal personal life is the payment he'd like to receive. Moving from one 'safe' place to another with the assistance of Galen, a fix-it man with favors of his own to return, Graham and Judd begin as the pursued and become the pursuers as they find out just from how deep into the US government the threats originate. Along the way they discover it is more than the threat of death to one witness. While this is a stand alone, regular readers of Johansen will appreciate the inclusion of some faces from her other works. This book reads at times like a script for an action movie, with terse, sharp descriptions and plenty of dialogue that seems to be made for the big screen rather than the more expansive medium of a novel. Completely incredible and entertaining, 'Dead Aim' is a fast and easy read that should please the best selling authors many fans and satisfy new readers looking for their dose of action, kills, spills & government conspiracies.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
She is a celebrated photojournalist who covers some of the most tragic news stories of our time. She is on assignment at Arapaho Junction, Colorado where a dam collapsed causing a landslide that has buried many people alive. Alex Graham helps with the rescue efforts along with her friend Sarah Logan and her rescue dog Monty. When Alex arranges a helicopter pick-up at the top of the gorge, it is blown out of the sky by two men trying to kill her. The two killers triggered a second landslide but there is no evidence to support Alex claims. The authorities think it was a result of the dam breaking but Sarah and Alex disagree. Sarah¿s husband whisks her away after she gets injured and gets Judd Morgan to watch over Alex. Judd, a black ops agent, is marked for assassination after seeing something he shouldn¿t have seen. Alex and Judd realize they are dealing with a conspiracy that has it¿s origins in renegade FBI and CIA officials and the executive office. They have to expose the conspirators before America experiences a deja vu tragic destruction of another Camelot. DEAD AIM is a fantastic action thriller that brings back beloved characters from other books written by the author. The two protagonists become romantically involved but that is a secondary plot that is overwhelmed by the non-stop action of the main theme. The respective vulnerability of both the hero and the heroine rings true and endears themselves to the readers but what is really exciting is how they travel different roads to take them to the same point. Iris Johansen will make the New York Times bestseller list with this dynamic and thrilling novel. Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 26, 2011
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Posted February 23, 2009
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