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The phone was ringing.
Ignore it, Eve told herself, her fingers moving swiftly on the skull reconstruction she'd given the name of Marty. She could call whoever it was back when she was through working. The phone was set for speaker and she could pick up if it was Joe or Jane. She was getting too close to that important last step in the sculpting.
On the sixth ring the answering machine picked up.
"I need to speak to you. Answer the phone, Ms. Duncan."
She froze, her fingers stopped in midstroke. Luis Montalvo. Though she had spoken to him only twice that faint accent was unmistakable.
"I know you're there. You haven't left that cottage in the last week." His voice became faintly mocking. "Your dedication is admirable and I understand you're brilliant at your job. I look forward to having both focused soon on my behalf." He paused. "Do pick up the phone. I'm not accustomed to being ignored. It upsets me. You don't want to upset me."
And she didn't want to pick up the phone. He might jar her out of the zone of feverish intensity she needed when she was working this close to completion. Dammit, she had hoped he wouldn't call her again after she'd turned him down when he'd phoned her the last time, over a week ago.
"I won't give up, you know."
No, he probably wouldn't. Montalvo had been polite during the first call and even after she'd refused his offer, the second time he'd phoned he'd displayed no anger. His voice had been smooth and soft, almost regretful, yet there had been a note beneath that velvet courtesy that had puzzled her. It had made her uneasy then but tonight it filled her with impatience. She had no time for this now. Marty was waiting.
She strode across the room and picked up the phone. "Montalvo, I'm very busy. You've had your answer. Don't call me again."
"Ah, how delightful to hear your voice. I knew you wouldn't be so rude as to leave me hanging on that dreadful answering device. I hate impersonal machines. I'm a man of emotion and passion and they offend me."
"I really don't want to hear what you love or hate. I don't care. I want to get off this phone and forget you exist."
"I realize that sad fact. You're absorbed in your latest reconstruction, of that boy found buried in Macon. Have you named him yet? I understand you name all the skulls you work on."
She stiffened. "How did you know that?"
"I know everything about you. I know you live with a Detective Joe Quinn of the Atlanta Police Department. I know you have an adopted daughter, Jane MacGuire. I know you're possibly the best forensic sculptor in the world. Shall I go on?"
"That could all be public record. And how did you know about the boy murdered in Macon?"
"I have many, many contacts around the world. Do you want to know who killed him? I could find out for you."
"I don't believe you."
"Because you're not even in this country. You're a scumbag of an arms peddler and you live in Colombia where you can hide out and deal your poison to the highest bidder."
He chuckled. "I do like frankness. Very few women I know are willing to tell me the truth as they see it."
"Then I'm grateful to not be one of the women you 'know,' you sexist bastard. If I were, I'd probably be tempted to cut your nuts off."
"Such violence, such passion. I believe we're very much alike, Ms. Duncan."
"No way." She drew a deep breath. "The answer is still no. I've no intention of coming down there and doing your reconstruction."
"You were very polite and businesslike, almost sympathetic, when I first made you the offer. The second time you were much more curt. I suppose you had Joe Quinn check me out?"
"Yes, of course. I don't deal with crooks and murderers."
"Everyone deals with whoever can make them the best bargain."
"I told you the last time that I wasn't interested in any of your fat fees."
"And I was duly impressed. I don't believe I've ever had anyone turn down a million dollars for a few days' work."
"Not true. All my cash is very well laundered."
"I thought you'd accepted that I wouldn't work for you."
"Because I didn't argue with you? I don't believe in spinning my wheels. I just go away and find another lure. It took almost a week for me to decide what that would be."
"I'm convinced you'll be my guest in a very short time."
"That would spoil the surprise. I like to see a plan unfold like a beautiful night flower."
"You mentioned Joe and my adopted daughter. You touch them and I'll kill you."
"That violence again." His tone was amused. "I'd never be that stupid. That would be the trigger that would send you into the fray to take me down. I want your cooperation."
"I'm hanging up."
"Very well. I just wanted to offer you the opportunity to change your mind. It would make me happy if you would come to me for mercenary reasons. Much less stressful for all of us."
"Are you threatening me?"
"Heavens, no. You'd know it if I were doing that. There would be no question. Won't you come and make me happy and become rich in the process?"
"Too bad." He sighed. "Good night." He hung up.
Eve slowly pressed the disconnect button. He had said he wasn't threatening her, but what else could she call it? It was subtle, but the threat was all the more chilling for the casual, understated way it was delivered. He'd been so calm when she'd turned down his offer that she'd honestly thought he'd accepted her refusal and was out of her life. It was clear she'd been wrong.
Should she call Joe and tell him Montalvo was still on the scene?
And have him think she was worried and rush home from the precinct?
She wasn't worried. She was uneasy. Montalvo had said her family was safe and she believed him. As he had perceived, any danger to them would have made her angry and rebellious. He'd made no direct threat at all and he might just be trying to intimidate her into doing his job.
Yet he'd seemed to know entirely too much about her movements. Was she being watched?
Yes, she'd definitely tell Joe. But there was no use in alarming him right now. She'd tell him tonight when he came home for dinner. Okay, so she wanted to get back to Marty and she was afraid talking to Joe about Montalvo would keep her from doing it. She wasn't about to let Montalvo disturb her concentration on her work. That slimeball would probably enjoy the thought that he could control her to that extent. He might even call her again and try to reinforce that control. She'd be damned if she'd let him. She turned off the house phone and then her cell phone before moving back toward the reconstruction on the easel across the room.
Block Montalvo out of her thoughts. Think of Marty and the chance to bring him home. Think of the boy who'd been murdered and buried and left alone with no name or place.
That was better. Montalvo's words were blurring, fading away as she began to work.
Talk to me, Marty. Help me to bring you home. . . .
"Pity." Montalvo looked down at the phone. "I was hoping she'd give in to greed like a normal person. It's easy to be noble for an hour, a day, but then they start to think and perhaps dream a little. A week should have whetted her appetite and made her start making excuses why she should take the job."
"Not everyone thinks that money is the be-all and end-all of everything, Montalvo," Soldono said.
Montalvo smiled. "Almost everyone. It's unfortunate that Eve Duncan is in the minority." He rose from the carved chair at the head of the dining table. "Oh, well. One must make adjustments."
Soldono tensed. "Don't do it, Montalvo."
"She's giving me little choice. You're giving me little choice. You didn't talk to her, did you?" He shook his head. "I told you what you had to do but you were looking for an out. I can see you scrambling frantically to avoid bringing her into the picture until time got away from you. Well, that time has come."
"Why her?" Soldono asked. "There's a fine forensic sculptor in Rio de Janeiro. Use him."
"Sanchez?" Montalvo shook his head. "Technically brilliant but he's not what I want."
"Eve Duncan is an American citizen and she's known and respected by every police department on the planet. She turned down your money and you'll be stirring up a hornet's nest if you try to force her."
"And you wouldn't like that. The CIA tries to be very low-key these days."
"Let me try to get Sanchez for you."
"You don't understand."
"Then tell me."
He gazed musingly down at the depths of the wine in his glass. "It's a matter of passion."
"I told Eve Duncan that I was a man of passion. It's true."
Soldono hadn't noticed any emotion in Montalvo, much less a passion. The man was brilliant, innovative, and he kept any feelings or thoughts hidden behind that faintly mocking smile. "Why Eve Duncan?" he repeated.
"She has passion too. I've studied her file and nothing could be clearer. It's like a whirlwind spinning around her. She grew up on the streets with a drug addict for a mother and gave birth to an illegitimate child as a teenager. She turned her life around and went back to school and became a model mother. Then her daughter was kidnapped and presumably killed, but the body was never found. Instead of being crushed, the lady became a forensic sculptor and tried to bring closure to other parents by identifying the remains of their missing children."
"I know all that," Soldono said impatiently.
"You know the facts but you've never studied Eve Duncan the way I have. I believe I may know her better than she knows herself. I know what drives her. I know what makes her tick."
"Yeah, sure." He couldn't keep the sarcasm from his tone. "Passion?"
"Don't underestimate it. Da Vinci had it. Michelangelo had it. It's the difference between art and creation. Eve Duncan has it." His tone was smooth but hard. "And that's why I have to have her. Don't try to pawn anyone else off on me."
"Find another way. You promised me that you'd–"
"And I'd keep my promise if you'd kept yours." His tone was threaded with mockery as he continued, "But since the lady is not being accommodating, I must have cooperation from someone. You can see that, can't you?"
Montalvo's smile faded. "Then your vision had better improve quickly. I told you yesterday that if I didn't get the answer I wanted, then I'd move. You obviously chose to think I wasn't serious. I'll give you another four hours to persuade her, Soldono. No more, no less." He looked at his watch. "Ten tonight."
"I can't strike a bargain like that."
"Of course you can. Don't bullshit me. You do it all the time. A life for a life." He turned away. "Finish your dinner. The tiramisu is magnificent. The chef will be upset if you don't try it."
Soldono was seething with frustration as he watched him walk away. Sleek, graceful, and as dangerous as a stick of dynamite too near the flames. Bastard.
Would he do it?
Why was he even questioning it? Montalvo didn't bluff and he would carry out any threat he made in exactly the method he'd outlined.
He had four hours.
He'd hoped to find a way to stop Montalvo without involving Eve Duncan but time had run out. But was it to his advantage to make a trade for the woman? Why not let it go? He had to be sure it was worth it.
He reached for his phone and quickly dialed.
"Montalvo's given me four hours. Dammit, he'll do it. How the hell am I supposed to stop him?"
Venable was silent for a moment. "It's time you offered Eve Duncan a choice."
"Some choice. Okay, I'm on it. I'll call you back when I get through." He hung up and looked in his book for Eve Duncan's phone number.
"Jane called me," Joe said as he came into the cottage two hours later. "She tried to reach you but she couldn't do it. She said she'd made reservations for us at the Doubletree in Phoenix and that I was to remind you that the show was this Saturday." He smiled. "I told her that there was a fairly good chance that you'd remember."
"What?" She tried to shift her attention away from the skull. It was like fighting her way through a thick fog. "Of course I remembered." Eve managed to tear her gaze away from Marty. "It's a very important show for Jane. I wouldn't miss it. She should know that."
"Yeah." He went over to the phone and turned it back on. "She also knows that you've been working day and night to finish that reconstruction."
"Marty is difficult." She looked back at the reconstruction of the eight-year-old boy. At least, the forensic team's estimate was eight years. "I had to practically put his splintered facial bones back together before I could begin work."
"Do we have a clue who he is yet?"
She shrugged. "You know I never look at police files before I finish the reconstruction. The Macon police have photos of children who disappeared around the time that they estimate the boy was killed. We'll see if we have a resemblance."
She grimaced. "Come on. The DNA labs are so backed up with current murders that they're not going to be in any hurry to process a five-year-old cold case." She pushed the hair back from her forehead. "But if I do a good enough job I have a chance to bring him home."
"You'll do a good job," Joe said. "But not if you get so tired you lose judgment." He headed for the kitchen. "Did you eat dinner?"
"I think so . . . I don't remember."
"Then we'll assume that you didn't. I'll warm up the beef stew in the refrigerator and put some garlic bread in the oven. That means you have fifteen minutes to clean up your studio and wash up."
"I can catch something later."
"Now." He opened the refrigerator. "Scoot."
She hesitated. Montalvo. She'd meant to tell him about the call from Montalvo as soon as he came in but it didn't seem important now. As she'd worked on the skull, everything had faded but the reality of the work itself. Marty was important. The other lost children were important. She'd tell Joe about Montalvo later. "I should finish tonight. I want to do the computer three-D image before we leave for Phoenix."
"The boy's been dead for five years. He can wait a little while longer." He glanced at her over his shoulder. "No arguments, Eve. I let you wear yourself into the ground because you give me no choice, but not this time. You'll have a fight on your hands. I'd bet you've lost five pounds this week."
From the Hardcover edition.
Posted March 13, 2014
Posted March 13, 2014
Posted December 25, 2012
Posted October 3, 2011
I'm a big fan of these Eve Duncan books. I was glad to see this book go back to being about Eve and not just Jane (Jane's character is a little annoying to me).. but this book wasn't overly exciting. I think it's strange that Eve is constantly getting offered these odd jobs & she's always putting herself into situations with people she knows are dangerous, even if they promise to find Bonnie! She knows that Joe isn't going to like it & that he's going to be angry. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Montalvo wasn't THAT bad of a guy... he actually turned out to be really caring. However, if Eve & Joe are married, I do not want to read about her being attracted to someone else! It just doesn't seem right. But I did enjoy the plot and the ending did take me by surprise... but it didn't blow me away. I'm just ready to read about what finally happened to Bonnie. I don't see this series getting too much more exciting until we start really getting to the nitty gritty of the Bonnie mystery. Now I will move onto Quicksand. I'm hoping to be blown away & be left saying "wow" like I was when I first started reading this series....Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 26, 2011
In the book Stalemate, the book focuses in on a woman named Eve Duncan. Eve Duncan's daughter Bonnie, has gone missing and could possibly be dead or in a fatal state. Luis Montalvo has contacted Bonnie, and he wants her to help him by using her amazing forensic skills and knowledge to help him on his reconstruction process.
Even though she doesn't want to help him personally, she wants to find her daughter. I thought that this book would be an excellent book to read if you like suspense and mystery books. The criteria involved in the book is one that I'm sure a plethora of people enjoy to pick up. It is also a great book of conflict as many dilemmas appear.
I believe that it might not have been the best book of the Eve Duncan series, in my opinion. Some of the other books seem to have caught my attention more as I was reading. Even though this might not have been my favorite, I would still recommend this book to anyone looking for a book, or you like Iris Johansen. It is certainly a book I would talk about and tell others around me about.
There are some parts of the book that are a bit more dry than others, but once you pick this book up, you can't put it down. I spend hours reading this book and had a hard time putting it down when I had to. Whenever I got the chance, I read more of this Eve Duncan thriller. It is suspenseful, and will give you a major thrill.
I can think of plenty of moods and topics presented in this book. Suspense, thrill, romance, and even action will send you through a loop. Iris Johansen is one of the few amazing authors that you love every one of their books. This book is written by one of those authors, that makes you want the book to go on forever.
Visit Barnes and Noble, or any book store for that matter, to pick up a copy. I can assure you it will give you the thrill of a lifetime in every chapter. You can't pass up a book like this. Stalemate, by Iris Johansen, is a book that you absolutely need to read. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.
Posted May 19, 2011
I would say that Stalemate is worth getting from your library. However, don't bother buying it. The book is OK but the plot isn't perticularly good. It can be hard to tell which parts are from which character's piont of view. However the story line is interesting because a lot of it takes place in the Columbian Jungle. It is about a drug lord, a weopons dealer, and a forensic sculptor. the forensic sculptor, who herself lost a child is hired by montalvo to provide proof that a skull he found is that of his wife whom was killed by the drugs lord. In a battle that is both physical and emotional she must choose between her lost daughter, bringing an innocent woman to justice, and Joe Quinn, a good friend. the book stays suspenseful to the end and always has a suprisse even if it is confusing. I rate it 4 out of 5.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 9, 2011
My good friend told me about this book, since she knew I got "hooked" on the field of forensic medicine after watching a certain tv show. Tv is fine, but for me nothing is better than a good novel that can weave a story around a subject that I'm interested in. Anyway I thought "Stalemate" was a fantastic novel and the forensic professor Eve Duncan was just the character I was looking for to keep me hooked on the field of forensic science. I was thrilled with the author's detailed descriptions of this field and way she just pulled me into this fascinating story. In summary, I really enjoyed Iris Johansen book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 6, 2010
This is the first book I have read by Johansen, so obviously the first I have read in the Eve Duncan series. So, Eve has an unusual profession. She leads an interesting, exciting, sometimes sad life. Really, the storyline was "out there." Besides the thin, unbelieveable plot, the dialogue is pretty weak. I don't get why this author and this series are so popular. There are many writers that far surpass this one.
0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Iris Johansen provides another edge of your seat thriller with probably one of my favorite characters. The strong, stubborn, save everyone she loves without help, Eve Duncan. Of course Joe and Sean can't help but try to save her. What else can I say but Iris Johansen did it again. I read this book in 2 days, and I am sure you will too. I was grabbed and pulled through this book from the minute that I picked it up and tried really hard not to close it, but you just have to sleep sometimes.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 17, 2008
I've been a long-time fan of Iris Johansen, especially the Eve Duncan series. Although STALEMATE is decidedly different from the other stories starring Eve Duncan from the past, I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it--so much so that I stayed up until 3am to finish the book. <BR/><BR/>Yes, the Eve in this story isn't the saintly, never-do-anything-wrong Eve that many readers have come to know and love. She becomes attracted to a bad guy who, at least in the beginning of the story, is the mother of all bad guys. Montalvo, however, isn't what he appears to be--just, as it would turn out, the same way that solid, ever-steady Eve isn't just the pushover we've always thought her to be. <BR/><BR/>The action in this story is non-stop, with a great appearance by Galen (one of my favorite characters of all-time) and with a great new character, 19-year-old Miguel. Montalvo, I'll admit, is a very, very appealing character; whether he's being a bad guy who seems to kill without compunction or a sensitive man who lost his wife to a drug lord, you can't help but find yourself drawn to him. <BR/><BR/>I, for one, am hoping that Ms. Johansen brings Montalvo back for more stories. Whether or not Eve and Joe (who, by the way, acted like a giant, ego-bruised baby throughout most of this story) can get their relationship back on track, or whether Eve will allow her attraction to Montalvo to grow, we'll have to wait and see. <BR/><BR/>But STALEMATE is definitely not a disappointing read. Kudos to Ms. Johansen for bringing back an Eve Duncan who actually started to act like a real, fallible human being, instead of a perfect, wounded princess.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 16, 2008
When I read fiction I like a happily ever after. I like to believe that love is the most important thing. This book was interesting but I didn't like the rift between Eve and Joe and her attraction to another man.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 1, 2008
Posted January 14, 2008
Too much talk and not enough action! The characters spent a lot of time talking about what they were going to do and nothing really happened. This Maldavo was supposed to be such a bad guy but she didn't really make him out to be all that bad by the time Eve got to Columbia. The sentences were about 3 words too short and cheesy to boot. I won't read any other Iris Johanson books.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 21, 2007
The book was OK. It did offer the usual suspense, twists and turns. The book was a little too predictable. Not up to her usual standards. Eve was written with different characteristics that were not flattering. Her nature seems to have changed from strong and determines to selfish and a bratty. I didn¿t like that she was attracted to someone else and her constant fighting with Joe was disappointing. She and Joe have always had a strong relationship and I¿d like to see that come back in the next book. I think the Eve Duncan series needs to end. She needs to put Bonnie to rest and move on to a new crew of people she can branch out on. Although, I have to admit I will buy her next book as soon as it hits the stands.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 6, 2007
Posted February 16, 2007
As with most of the other reviews, I've read all of the Eve Duncan titles, and have enjoyed them. This one is not one of my favorites. The dialogue is tedious and repetitive. I feel compelled to mention that the reader of the audiobook makes all of the Colombian characters sound like Dracula!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 11, 2007
My title says it all. I think this series has been played out. Eve and Joe's marriage is just painful. I've read all of Johansen's books and have never been this disappointed before. I will be borrowing her future books from the library and spending my money on other authors until she comes up with something better.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 2, 2009
Following on the heels of her wildly successful last thriller starring forensic professor Eve Duncan (On The Run, 2006), the writer who has been called 'the queen of suspense' now presents an equally terrifying tale that pits Eve against a fearsome killer. As fans of Iris Johansen know she wastes little time in roping readers/listeners in. It all begins with a phone call, in fact the third she has received from Luis Montalvo, a Colombian drug lord. She's hard at work reconstructing a skull and wants no interruptions but can't resist picking up the phone to tell Montalvo in no uncertain terms that he's not to call her again. But, this is a man who does not take no for an answer, and says, 'I'm convinced you'll be my guest in a very short time.' 'Why?' 'That would spoil the surprise. I like to see a plan unfold like a beautiful night flower.' 'You mentioned Joe and my adopted daughter. You touch them and I'll kill you.' 'That violence again.' His tone was amused. 'I'd never be that stupid. That would be the trigger that would send you into the fray to take me down. I want your cooperation.' As much as she detests the man he has the one key that will make her agree to go to him - information about her daughter, Bonnie, who was abducted years ago and is presumed dead. Once in the jungles of Colombia Eve finds herself trapped, caught in a battle between drug dealers. And neither side cares whether Eve lives or dies. If you like to see a heroine battling for her life and favor thrillers with dashes of forensic detail - this one's for you! - Gail CookeWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 10, 2007
Following on the heels of her wildly successful last thriller starring forensic professor Eve Duncan (On The Run, 2006), the writer who has been called 'the queen of suspense' now presents an equally terrifying tale that pits Eve against a fearsome killer. As fans of Iris Johansen know she wastes little time in roping readers/listeners in. It all begins with a phone call, in fact the third she has received from Luis Montalvo, a Colombian drug lord. She's hard at work reconstructing a skull and wants no interruptions but can't resist picking up the phone to tell Montalvo in no uncertain terms that he's not to call her again. But, this is a man who does not take no for an answer, and says, 'I'm convinced you'll be my guest in a very short time.' 'Why?' 'That would spoil the surprise. I like to see a plan unfold like a beautiful night flower.' 'You mentioned Joe and my adopted daughter. You touch them and I'll kill you.' 'That violence again.' His tone was amused. 'I'd never be that stupid. That would be the trigger that would send you into the fray to take me down. I want your cooperation.' As much as she detests the man he has the one key that will make her agree to go to him - information about her daughter, Bonnie, who was abducted years ago and is presumed dead. Once in the jungles of Colombia Eve finds herself trapped, caught in a battle between drug dealers. And neither side cares whether Eve lives or dies. With numerous Broadway, film and television appearances to her credit actress Jennifer Van Dyck is again well cast as the voice of Eve Duncan. Many well remember her fine voice performances on other Johansen favorites such as Killer Dreams and On The Run. Van Dyck's trained voice ably reflects both Eve's toughness and her vulnerability. - Gail CookeWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 4, 2007
What in the world happened to this book? I have read every Eve Duncan book and was very annoyed with this book. I could not stand Eve in this book. She had such a know-it-all attitude. To have Eve and Joe's marriage challenged like it was in this book was awful. Please be done with this series if you are going to continue to write Eve and Joe like this. Plus, I still cannot stand Jane. She thinks she knows everything. Her attitude stinks. This book ends in the worst possible way. You have to buy the next book to even see what happens. I am not even sure I will go buy it. This series is getting a little boring. To much of the same thing in every book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.