Dead Aim

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"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 ...
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"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.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Heavy on verbs, light on adjectives, Johansen's latest fast-moving thriller offers lots of cinematic action, if not much to contemplate or savor. On assignment at a dam collapse in Colorado, photojournalist Alex Graham overhears a conversation between the conspirators who caused the collapse, which they disguised as an act of nature. When they realize that Alex has heard them, they go after her, and soon Alex's friend, Sarah Logan, is wounded in an attempt on Alex's life. Sarah's husband, John, a billionaire with political connections, believes he must hire someone to keep Alex safe. His contact is a man called Galen, a shadowy government operative, who in turn contacts Judd Morgan, a former military assassin who's been deep undercover. Knowing that Alex won't leave the dam mystery alone, and wanting to keep his own wife out of harm's way, John authorizes Judd to kidnap Alex and take her to a safe location. Alex persuades Judd that the dam collapse was a deliberate act, and that more sites are slated to be destroyed. The two team up to learn the identities of the conspirators, who appear to have ties to the FBI and the CIA, as well as to an assassin called Runne, who has his own agenda, and a Central American terrorist ring. There are chases and narrow escapes aplenty as Alex and Judd save the country-including the president himself-from violent mayhem. Some of the characters in Johansen's crowded cast remain murky, but the nonstop action and slick plotting won't disappoint. Major ad/promo. (Apr. 1) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Daring photojournalist Alex Graham concludes that a natural disaster she's been shooting is really a mass murder. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Tough-minded photojournalist Alex Graham inadvertently saves the free world. Calamity? Catastrophe? Alex is there, and she's all heart. On assignment to photograph rescue efforts after the Arapahoe Dam collapses, she puts down her camera and picks up a shovel to dig out a baby. Then she hops a helicopter to get to the unstable gorge above for some dazzling aerial shots-and happens to overhear the villains who apparently engineered the dam's collapse, waiting for their helicopter. Did they see her? Yup. Cut to the chase, without a second to spare. Alex eludes them but she's going to need some help. Enter Judd Morgan, sexy former undercover man for the Company, now in hiding to save his own skin, painting serene landscapes to soothe his troubled soul. He dresses as a fireman to snatch up Alex during a staged conflagration (mostly smoke) from under the noses of the bad guys. Could they be soldiers of Matanza, the Central American terrorist group? And is Matanza somehow linked to Se-or Lotana, a disgruntled Brazilian scientist hoping to tap the geothermal power of vents that originate within the earth's very core? And what does that have to do with the bunker system now in place to protect the US president in the event of a large-scale terrorist attack on our leader and way of life? Well, if the Commander-in-Chief gets blown sky-high, there won't be anyone around to make reassuring speeches to a worried nation. Except maybe the Vice President . . . a sneaky Al Gore type given to high-minded environmental activism. Cut to the chase again as Alex and Morgan race against time to uncover the real culprit behind this complicated plot, and fight for their lives-not to mention truth, justice, andthe American Way. Smoothly written, tightly plotted, turbocharged thriller, about a millimeter deep-but megaselling Johansen doesn't miss (Body of Lies, 2002, etc.).
From the Publisher
“Smoothly written, tightly plotted, turbocharged thriller … Johansen doesn’t miss.”—Kirkus Reviews
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739434178
  • Publisher: Random House Large Print
  • Pages: 435

Meet the Author

Iris Johansen
Iris Johansen is the New York Times bestselling author of Killer Dreams, On the Run, Countdown, Firestorm, Fatal Tide, Dead Aim, No One to Trust and more. 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


The shot was an explosion that spewed a shower of bright sparks from the pistol's muzzle into the darkness and kicked the barrel upward, but the arm of the shooter quickly straightened to level it again. The shooter fired the second and third shots into the lighted interior of the car, and the late-night silence returned. After a few seconds, crickets began to chirp tentatively again from nearby yards.

There were three holes punched through the rear window of the car, and even from his vantage across the alley behind the shooter, Parish could see that Mark Romano's head had been pounded forward, and the windshield had been sprayed nearly opaque with his bright red blood.

Parish watched as one of the women gently but firmly placed her arm around the shooter's left shoulder and took the gun from the right hand. The waiting escape car rolled up and within a few heartbeats the shooter had been hustled into the back seat. Parish leaned in to speak softly to the driver. "Go ahead. We'll finish up here."

The car moved off down the alley with its lights still out. Parish walked into the garage, stopped by the side of Romano's car, and bent to stare into the still-lighted interior at the bloody face to be sure there was no possibility of life. He reached across the body to the dashboard and took the remote control unit. He closed the car door, stepped out of the garage, and pushed the remote control button to bring the door down to cover the scene.

As he turned, Spangler emerged from the darkness at his side and pointed at the back of a house down the alley. "There was a face in that window for a second."

"Better take care of it beforewe go," whispered Parish. "They haven't had enough time to get the shooter out of the area."

The two men walked quickly and silently up the alley. They were both tall, but they moved toward the house with a surprising ability to blend into their surroundings, passing through each shadowy space beside the garages, moving along rows of garbage cans to make their shapes get lost to the eye among the many others in the dark alley.

The house was two lots down from Mark Romano's-they had waited for a night when the nearest neighbors were away-so the face could not have seen much from that window, beyond the six-foot cinder-block wall that separated the alley from the yard. Parish and Spangler moved to the wall, barely glancing at each other, as though they had done this so many times that each knew the steps, neither needing to check where the other was.

In seconds Parish was up and over the wall into the yard behind the house, and Spangler had made his way along the fence beside it. As Spangler went over the fence and dashed up the low steps toward the kitchen door, he could hear Parish breaking the glass in the window at the back of the house, and he hit the door with his shoulder before the musical sound of glass hitting the floor inside the house had stopped.

The door flew inward, cracked into the wall, bounced, and swung back, but Spangler was already across the small kitchen, his gun drawn, slipping up the hallway toward the back bedroom at a run. He went low, held his pistol ahead of him, and stepped into the doorway.

He saw a man in boxer shorts standing inside the room leaning against the wall, both hands on an aluminum baseball bat, waiting for Parish to try to climb in through the broken window beside him. Spangler fired once into the man's chest as Parish fired twice through the window into the room.

Spangler's head spun so he could see what Parish had shot. It seemed at first that it was just a lump in the blanket, but then Spangler saw the telephone cord leading from the nightstand under the covers. He tore the blanket and sheet aside to reveal the body of the woman, the telephone receiver still clutched in her hand.

He moved to the window, pulled the sash up, and stepped back to let Parish climb in. Parish glanced at the man on the floor as he hurried to the bed where the woman lay. He snatched the telephone from her fingers, put it to his ear, and smiled as he set it in its cradle. "Dial tone. She hadn't gotten the call off yet."

"Close, though," said Spangler. He turned to go.

"Not yet." He nodded at the dead man below the window. "That bat isn't the right size for him, is it?"

Spangler whispered, "Kids?"

"Better check."

Spangler followed Parish into the hallway, mirroring his rapid, efficient movements. Parish stopped at each doorway on the left, put his head inside, turned to look both ways, then moved on. Spangler took the doorways on the right. Parish stopped at the end of the hall, where the door was closed. He tried the handle, found that it would not turn, and nodded to Spangler. Then he stepped back and kicked.

As the door flew open, Spangler stepped in after it. He decided that the boy crouching on the floor at the far end of the bunk bed must be nine or ten, and the little sister he had pushed behind him would be around five. Parish and Spangler seemed to have the same thought, which was that they must make use of the children's shock and immobility before they tried to run or crawl under something, as children often did. Both men centered their shots in the children's foreheads.

Parish and Spangler left the room and continued up the hallway. It did not make sense to go out the way they had come. The only car in the alley had been the one that had been used to spirit the shooter away, and there was nothing left near Romano's body that they needed to think about any further. They walked across the small, drab living room, carefully avoided a skateboard that had been left near the front door, slipped the latch, and stepped outside. They made their way around the corner to the car they had parked there, and Spangler drove them up the street toward the freeway entrance.

Forty-five minutes later, when they were driving north beside the ocean, Parish opened his window and tossed the remote control for Mark Romano's garage door opener out onto the pavement. The little plastic case broke apart with the impact and the pieces bounced a few times, cartwheeling and then sliding to a stop a few feet apart in the right lane, where they would be crushed to bits by the next car, or the next, or the one after that.

Copyright© 2002 by Thomas Perry
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 34 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 10, 2012

    Highly recommend. Another Johansen page turner.

    Suspenseful, great characters, makes you want to read more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 8, 2011

    Good read!

    This was a good book for my first Iris Johansen book. Good charaters and story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Very good book

    Great book I would recommend it to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2008

    Not a romance, not a thriller

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2007

    A reviewer

    I liked this one. I like Morgan, he's more real than her other heros.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2006

    Dead Aim RULES!!!!!

    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!

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  • Anonymous

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2004

    A very spectacular page turner

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2003

    too many characters

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2003

    A mystery fan

    Excellent!!!!!!! One of my favorite authors. I could not wait to finish it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2003

    She bit off too much this time...

    Ms. Johansen bit off way too much this time. She has too much story and not enough anything else. I was VERY disappointed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2003

    romantic mystery thriller

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2003

    Where's the Character Development?

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    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..

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  • Anonymous

    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?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2003

    A Murder & Mayhem Bookclub review

    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.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    fantastic action thriller

    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 Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews

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