An especially far-fetched plot and unconvincing dialogue mar this romantic thriller, set primarily in Afghanistan and Russia, from bestseller Johansen (Dark Summer). Emily Hudson, a U.N. artifacts expert, is trying to track down a vicious criminal who may have stolen "Zelov's hammer." Hidden inside the old mallet is a treasure map to the long-lost riches of Russia's assassinated Romanov family. Helping Hudson is a rough-and-ready CIA tracker, whose physical charms prove irresistible to the usually proud and independent Hudson. As is Johansen's wont, the romance competes head-to-head with the chase, with annoying effect. Love scenes and hokey romantic dialogue closely follow or precede those of perilous action. On one page, Hudson will be steely and adept, then, on the next, fragile and feeble. By the time the plot hits the homestretch, many readers will have a hard time taking it seriously. 650,000 first printing. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Deadlockby Iris Johansen, Jennifer Van Dyke
"Emily Hudson is an archeologist who travels the world in search of priceless artifacts from war-torn countries and other hot spots. Her best friend and partner, Joel Levy, is always at her side - until one day, her entire crew is massacred and Joel and Emily are held captive. Victims of one of the most ruthless and evil human beings on earth. For two weeks they try… See more details below
"Emily Hudson is an archeologist who travels the world in search of priceless artifacts from war-torn countries and other hot spots. Her best friend and partner, Joel Levy, is always at her side - until one day, her entire crew is massacred and Joel and Emily are held captive. Victims of one of the most ruthless and evil human beings on earth. For two weeks they try to survive, until Emily is the unwitting instrument in Joel's demise." "Jon Garrett has worked for the CIA, MI6, and whoever else needed his services. Now, the CIA comes calling with a desperate mission for him: save Emily Hudson." "But there may be more to this job than they reveal." "And soon, his connection to Emily has him questioning everything he thought to be true. Emily has vengeance on her mind. Will Garrett aid her in getting revenge? Can Emily help him get to the truth behind a bigger conspiracy? Or will they both die trying?" With lightning-fast pacing, plot twists and shocking betrayals, Iris Johansen is at the top of her game in this latest thriller.
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By Iris Johansen
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2009 Iris Johansen
All rights reserved.
"THAT'S THE END OF IT." JOEL Levy stepped back from the bed of the truck with a sigh of satisfaction. "Now, can we get the hell out of here, Emily? I don't like the look of those clouds. All we need is to get caught in a snowstorm to make this trip a total waste of time."
"It's not been a waste of time," Emily Hudson said as she zipped up her fleece-lined jacket. But Joel was right, the temperature had dropped dramatically in the last hour, and the air had a bite to it. "Just because we didn't find anything that we haven't seen before doesn't mean that those artifacts aren't worth saving. It means something to these people, this country."
"Save the lecture for your class at the university," Joel said. "All I know is that we drove all the way up here into the mountains to this little museum that no one but us seems to give a damn about. And no wonder. Most of those artifacts are less than a hundred years old."
"And you wanted to find Alexander's sword or a new version of the Bible." Emily made a face at him. "And I'm not lecturing you. Do you think I'm nuts? I know it would be hopeless. I don't know how you got your doctorate. You're no scholar, you're an Indiana Jones wannabe."
"You're just jealous." Joel grinned. "You want to be Indiana Jones, too, but you're weighed down by paperwork and responsibility. All that stuff is sapping the joy of life out of you. You should never have taken this job, Emily."
She shrugged. "It needed doing."
"And the U.N. wasn't willing to pay anyone else enough to risk their necks like we do." He corrected himself, "Like you do. After this job, I'm going home to settle down and write my memoirs."
"No publisher would buy it. You're only twenty-seven."
"But I've aged in the last five years I've worked with you. I'll lie a little, embroider a little, and then Spielberg will buy my book for the movies."
"Good luck." Joel was always threatening to quit, but he never did. He had a fine mind, but he was too restless for university work and liked moving from country to country. He'd certainly had enough of that working with Emily. The U.N. sent them to the hot spots and war zones of the world to catalog, verify, and move the contents of museums to special preservation centers until it was considered safe to return the cultural treasures to their home bases. Not only did Joel have a Ph.D. in Archaeology and Antiquities, but he was fluent in Hebrew and several other Middle Eastern languages, making him invaluable to Emily. "But if you stay home, Maggie will make you marry her. No more ships that pass in the night."
He flinched. "Maybe I'll go on one more job with you."
"Is that the last load, Emily?" Al Turner stuck his head out the window from the driver's seat. "We'd better hit it. It looks like snow."
"I'm surrounded by weathermen," Emily said as she turned back to the museum. "That's it, Al. You and Don go on. Joel and I will take one more look around, then follow you in the other truck."
"Don't be too long," Al said. "You don't want to be caught by weather in these hills. I know the U.N. said they'd cleared the area of bandits, but they've been wrong before."
No one knew that better than Emily. She and Joel had almost been blown up in Baghdad when the military had assured them that the area the museum occupied was in a safe zone. Joel swore that the U.N. had pressured the military to make a hasty judgment. The artifacts in that museum had been priceless, and the U.N. had not wanted either theft or damage done as a result of the war effort. It would have been "awkward."
The museum had been booby-trapped, and there had not only been treasures lost, but Emily had ended up in the military hospital in Germany with a concussion. Like Joel, she was now wary about trusting any reports of peace in any region. "It's been pretty peaceful so far. And I just got a call that our military escort is almost here."
Al scowled. "They should have been here hours ago. They were supposed to meet us before we even entered this zone."
"That's what I told them. They stopped to help remove a land mine at a village near here. You'll probably run into them before you've gone far." She waved. "Get out of here, Al. I'll see you in Kabul."
She watched the truck go down the hill and then lifted her gaze to the mountains of the Hindu Kush to the north. Magnificent mountains whose rough paths had been walked by Alexander the Great, Russian invaders, and local warlords. They always looked austere, but with those storm clouds hovering over the peaks, they were particularly forbidding. She turned to Joel. "Let's go back and check the cellar again. We were working so fast that I didn't get a chance to examine the walls to see if there were any cubbyholes where the curator might have hidden anything."
He followed her into the building. "Why wouldn't he have taken anything valuable with him?"
"He might have done it. The report said he'd been killed by bandits while he was trying to get out of the area. But you know we've found hidden artifacts before." It wasn't that unusual for museum staffs to pilfer artifacts, then blame warring forces. "Come on. Maybe you'll find the Holy Grail."
"Not likely." He glanced around at the empty cases of the first-floor exhibition room. "We didn't find one display case that could have preserved anything ancient. Cheap, very cheap. I can't figure out why they even had a museum out here in the boondocks. There's only a little village in the valley, and that's practically deserted after all the bandit activity in the area."
That had puzzled Emily, too. The area had just been opened to the U.N. after a violent year of bandit and Taliban activity. It was strange that the museum had appeared to be untouched by the violence taking place around it, but perhaps stranger that it existed here at all. "I was told the museum was funded by Aman Nemid, a member of the National Council who was born in that village. He's very proud of it. He was the one who requested we be sent here to save it."
"Save what? I think that curator would have considered an old print of Casablanca an art treasure."
"It was. I liked that movie." She was already on her way downstairs. "I know, I'm a sentimental slob."
"Yep," he said as he followed her. "You need someone to jar you into the real world. I can't understand why you're not a cynical, hard-bitten shrew, considering the job you do."
Her brows rose. "You mean I'm not? What a concession coming from you."
"Well, I have to keep you in line. You'd be impossible to work with if I didn't."
"I am cynical," she said quietly. "I just can't let it poison me. There are scumbags walking this earth, but there are good people too. I figure if I look straight at the goal ahead, maybe I won't see the ugliness." She smiled as she glanced back over her shoulder. "And good company helps the bad medicine go down. You qualify at least seventy percent of the time."
"Eighty-five." She was looking around the dim cellar. It had been used as a storage area as in most museums, and they had packed up everything that qualified as a possible artifact. There were rusting farm tools thrown in the corner, but they couldn't have been over twenty years old and had probably been used in the garden in the back. The few wooden storage boxes piled across the way had already been searched and deemed not worth transporting. "You check that wall. I'll do this one. If you see any cracks, any thickness that might conceal a compartment, give a shout."
"I know the procedure." Joel moved toward the wall and turned on his flashlight. "But we're not going to find anything. Give it up, Emily."
"Your approval rating has just gone down five points. Be quiet and just look." She didn't blame Joel for being reluctant to waste time here. This job had gone wrong from the time they had arrived in Afghanistan. They were supposed to have been sent to Iraq again but had been diverted to Kabul. Then there was the snafu with the military escort, and when they arrived here, the museum had been deserted and the supposedly priceless artifacts as disappointing in value as Joel claimed. Well, all she could do was do the job and hope the next one went better. She turned on her own flashlight. "I want to get out of here, too. But I need to leave knowing that I didn't miss anything."
"Yes, boss," Joel said. "It's only fair to tell you that I'm rethinking the hard-bitten shrew."
"I'll live with it." She started going over the walls, first visually, then with the tips of her fingers. "I'll just watch a DVD of Casablanca when I get back to town, and maybe I'll remember that some men are willing to sacrifice what they want now and then."
"That hurt. When you were down with flu, didn't I do your paperwork on that job in Chevnov? I'd say that was a gigantic sacrifice."
"You only did it because you wanted to use it to blackmail me for the rest of my career." It was a lie. Joel had been as caring as a mother with her child when she had been ill. He had found her a decent doctor and finished the job in Chevnov himself. No one could be a better friend than Joel had proved to be. She'd be devastated both personally and professionally if she lost him. "Check those walls."
"Okay. Okay." He shined his beam on the walls. "But I bet Humphrey Bogart wouldn't have wasted his time. There's no drama in this. Boring."
"But Ingrid Bergman would have done it in a heartbeat. She knew about duty."
Joel sighed and repeated, "Boring."
"I'M DONE," JOEL SAID. "NARY a cache in sight. Do you need any help?"
"No. I'll only be a few more minutes." She moved a few feet, her gaze narrowing on the wall. "You'd just get in my way."
"If you take any longer, I'll build a bonfire of those trunks." He blew on his hands. "We've only been down here ten minutes, and it's like an icebox."
"A few more minutes," she repeated absently, her fingertips probing the rough stone wall.
Joel leaned back against the wall, watching her. She probably didn't even feel the cold, he thought. Once Emily focused on a project, nothing existed but the work at hand. That was the reason she was admired and respected by military and diplomats alike in this part of the world. She was brilliant and dedicated and had credentials out of the stratosphere. She was only thirty, but she had been working for the U.N. since before she had gotten her degree. At first, she worked under Oxford Professor Cordwain, but she had taken over after he opted out eighteen months later.
More power to her. He wouldn't have her job on a bet. He didn't mind being on the team, but he liked his personal life, and Emily had none. Every time she started to have a tentative relationship, she was sent to another part of the world.
Why hadn't he tried to get her into bed? They worked together with a closeness that should have lent itself to a more sexual intimacy. God knows, she was attractive. Maybe not in the usual sense. She was tall and thin, but with a grace and strength that were kind of sexy. Her brown eyes were wide set and slanted, giving her a faintly exotic appeal. She wore little makeup, but her skin was baby soft and clear, and her short blond-brown hair was always clean and shiny.
So why hadn't he hit on her?
Because he'd sensed the fragility beneath the strength. In spite of what she faced every day, she was a dreamer, and dreamers could be hurt. She wanted to believe in a better world that had all the beauty of the past, and ignored the fact that the past had been as violent as the present.
No, she didn't ignore it. But she refused to dwell on it. Maybe that was why he liked her so damn much. She wanted the world to be good and was doing something about it. She was right, he only wanted the adventure, the excitement, and the friendship that Emily gave him.
And occasionally, when he was on leave, a roll in the hay with Maggie Nevowitz, who was cute and bawdy and not at all fragile.
"Nothing." Emily took a step back. "I didn't really expect it."
"Then will you tell me why I'm freezing my balls off down here?"
Her smile lit her face. "Because it could have been." She started for the stairs. "The most magical words in the language."
He followed her. "No, the most magical words are heat, food, and sex." He turned up his collar as they went outside. "Brrr." His gaze went to the mountains. "It's coming fast. Look at those clouds."
"Then let's get going." She jumped into the passenger seat of the truck. "At the speed you drive, we should be out of the province before the storm catches up to us. And the military escort will meet us long before then. It should be okay."
"Yeah." He didn't move, his eyes on the roiling gray-black clouds. He was feeling a chill that had nothing to do with the temperature. His chest was tight, and he was experiencing a weird panicky sensation. It was as if those threatening clouds were alive and stalking him.
"Sure." He tore his gaze away from the approaching storm. "It'll be okay."
"THEY'RE COMING." BORG FELL down beside Staunton on the side of the hill overlooking the road. "Just a few minutes away." He lifted his rifle. "Shall I blow out the tires to make them stop?"
"No, they'll stop." Staunton lifted his binoculars. "They have a reason. We don't want to damage the artifacts in the back if they skid off the road." He focused his glasses on the front seat of the approaching truck. "Yes, there she is in the passenger seat. Emily Hudson. She's smiling and talking to the man next to her. What's his name? Levy. No sexual relationship, but they're friends of long standing. And her attitude toward him leads me to believe our reports are accurate."
"They're going to see it soon," Borg said. "We should be ready."
"I'm ready." Staunton said. "I'm always ready." He put the binoculars down. "Stop worrying, Borg."
"We can't delay that escort any longer. They're going to be right on top of us within thirty minutes."
"Thirty minutes can be a long time. I've prepared everything. It will all go well."
"Sure." Borg clenched his hand on the stock of the rifle. Staunton had ice water running through his veins. The bastard was always cool and certain of everything. "Do you think she has it in that truck?"
"I hope she does." He smiled. "It will be so much easier for her if it's there."
"FOR PETE'S SAKE, WILL YOU turn off Bruce Springsteen?" Joel asked. "You played him all the way here. I need a break."
"You're never satisfied." She started searching her iPod. "I'd think you'd appreciate the difference between The Boss and Casablanca. 'Born in the U.S.A.' is definitely not sentimental."
"But he goes both ways. 'Dancing in the Dark' is a little too — what the shit!" He jammed on the brakes. "It's Al's truck!"
Emily's eyes widened in horror. "My God."
The truck was turned over and artifacts were strewn all over the gravel road and bordering ditches.
"I don't see Al or Don." Joel opened the door. "Where the hell are they?"
"No!" Emily grabbed his arm. "Don't get out of the truck. Get us out of here."
"No way. I have to find —"
"You know what we're supposed to do when we run into anything unusual. We'll come back as soon as we run into the escort. This could be a trap."
"And it could be a hit-and-run by those son-of-a-bitchin' bandits or Taliban. If our guys are hurt, they could bleed to death before we can get back to them." He grabbed his gun from the glove box and jumped to the ground. "Stay here. I'll check it out." He strode toward the overturned truck. "Call for help."
If he was going to do it, then she couldn't let him go in alone. She grabbed her Glock and got out of the truck. "Be careful, dammit. Don't go barging in and —" She stopped as she saw the blood.
A thin red stream was running toward them from behind the truck.
She forgot about being careful. She was around the truck before Joel got there.
"God in heaven," she whispered.
Al was crumpled near the ditch. His head had been almost torn from his body by a barrage of bullets. Don was half under the truck as if he'd tried to get away from the attack. He hadn't succeeded. Bullet holes peppered his entire torso.
"Butchers," Joel said huskily. "They didn't have a chance."
Emily tore her gaze from the bodies. Bodies. So impersonal a word. These had been her friends and companions. "We can't do anything for them. We have to get out of here."
Excerpted from Deadlock by Iris Johansen. Copyright © 2009 Iris Johansen. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Johansen spins an old tale of the romanovs with a new little twist. The charachers were cute. An odd but cute bunch. A little twist at the end that was a little unexpected but was a great way to paint out some of the "bad guy" players. a different approach for her but definately a good one.
I just finished reading "Deadlock" and the book is amazing! I actually had to read it twice because the first time I read it I couldn't put it down until I was done. Then a few days later I went back and picked it up again. Reading it the second time was just as amazing as reading it the first time. The adventure in this book is captaviating while the characters just make you want to read the book entirely before putting it down. I have been reading Ms. Johansen's work for the past two years and I love her writing style. I always get excited when she comes out with a new book. If anyone has been contemplating on picking up some books written by Ms. Johansen, don't. Pick them up and you'll be hooked for life. Keep the books coming Ms. Johansen!
I have read other books by Iris Johansen but found this book to be frustrating. I even stopped and read two other books before forcing myself to finish this novel. My main issue was that the characters were poorly development and often felt very forced. The heroin in particular was inconsistent and I just couldn't support or believe her character - actually I truly disliked her. I think the plot could have been interesting but it all felt rushed which made it uneventful. I believe Johansen wrote Killer Dreams and I found that a much better read.
So I read this book thinking it would be something like "The Genesis Secret" by Tom Knox and I was a little surprised by what I read. I did like the whole background story about the Tsar, the murder of the Romanovs, and the hammer but what bothered me was the relationship between Emily and Garrett. It's not that they didn't have good chemistry--because they kind of did--but I didn't expect such explicit sex scenes. It made me a little uncomfortable while reading. These scenes don't pop up very much, but they're pretty awkward, so I'm just warning everyone. Also, I've never read a book by Johanssen before, but I don't think I'm going to read anymore. This may not be her best work, but I was confused as to what type of writer she is--a writer or erotica or action/adventure? It wasn't blended well to me. I wasn't that excited to finish the book or stay up late to finish it either...It was just, "I'll finish it when I have time or on a rainy day." It was just ehhhh. I don't know. It was just okay-nothing special. .
Emily was captured by Staunton and forced to watch while her co-worker was tortured. The CIA could not rescue her, but Garret could. When Garret read about the kidnapped artifact expert, he felt drawn to her. He used his contacts and rescued Emily. Staunton would not let her go that easily and began stalking her. The only way to keep Emily safe was for Staunton to die. Garrett and Emily combine forces to stop Staunton. Their mission places everyone they care about in danger. I think I have read every book Iris Johansen has written. Her latest book, Deadlock, is not the typical suspense, romance that fans have come to expect. Johansen takes the genre to a new level. Her characters are original. Garret has a dark side. He is very passionate and loving, but there is that certain something that tells you he is a man that will stop at nothing to protect the woman he loves. Emily is anything but a victim. She suffered through the hell Staunton prepared for her,and she survived. Irana had an inner strength and serenity. (Ms. Johansen, please give us a book with Irana as a lead). Deadlock is a combination of romance, suspense, and action. The plot is well developed and one I was easily caught up in. I give this book 5 stars and eagerly await Johansen's next one.
I don't read or finish very many books, but this book kept me wanting more and I ended up finishing it very fast. It was a great story! I would compare it to Jason Borne meets National Treasure. It had a good amount of mystery that keeps you guessing. My only problem was the relationship between Garret and Emilly. It was certainly steamy, but I felt Garret was too whipped at the end. I like my badass assassin agent types to be just that, BUT that is just a personal preference. Still a fantastic book and I recommend reading it.
This book grabs you from page 1 & doesn't let go!
Good, stubborn girl. ending ok. characters good.
This is a good summer read - easy without thinking too much.