First comes darkness, then comes fear
Eve Duncan is back! Blockbuster New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen's latest thriller brings Eve closer to discovering her daughter's killer…and into a web of danger from which she may not be able to escape…
Eve Duncan returns in a thriller that pits her against the most evil mind she has ever encountered: a ruthless killer who taunts her with his every move…and who has a special affinity for blood. When a Georgia senator's daughter is found murdered, and her body drained of blood, Eve Duncan is drawn into the web of Kevin Jelak—a serial murderer who is on Eve's short list of killers who might know something about her missing daughter Bonnie. When a goblet of blood is found in Eve's refrigerator, she knows the taunting is over…and the games have begun. As Eve and Jelak engage in a dance of death, Eve must call upon those she loves and trusts the most…even if it means bringing them into the game as well.
About the Author
IRIS JOHANSEN is the New York Times bestselling author of Dark Summer, Silent Thunder (with Roy Johansen), Pandora's Daughter, Quicksand, Killer Dreams, On the Run, Countdown, Firestorm, Fatal Tide, Dead Aim, No One to Trust and more. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia.
Iris Johansen is the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing the Night, Blood Game, Eve, and Eight Days to Live, among others. She began writing after her children left home for college, and first achieved success in the early 1980s writing category romances. In 1991, she began writing suspense historical romance novels, and in 1996 she turned to crime fiction, with which she has had great success. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia.
Read an Excerpt
By Iris Johansen
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2009 Johansen Publishing LLLP
All rights reserved.
THE WOMAN WAS FRUITFUL.
She had given to him, and he must give back.
Kevin Jelak arranged her naked body carefully on the grass. He brushed her long blond hair back from her face and closed her blue eyes, which were staring straight up at the sky. But he could do nothing about the twisted horror that was frozen on her face. She hadn't understood the honor he was doing her. Well, what could you expect? Nancy Jo Norris was only nineteen, and she didn't know what nightmares could attack a woman, the nightmares from which he'd saved her. He preferred to honor older, more experienced women, but the fever had been upon him, and he'd had to compromise.
The fever. You didn't realize how fortunate you were, Nancy Jo. I might have driven right past you if the torment hadn't been so intense and if I hadn't been forced to confine myself to such a small corner of the world.
The corner of the world that contained Eve Duncan. Wonderful, strong, tortured Eve Duncan. Eve knew about the nightmares. She had lived through them. She might pretend that she wanted life, but deep in her heart of hearts she only wanted the release he could give her. The release he must give her. He had known that she would be his final move in the game. But she had destroyed his prime source, and it was his duty to take the time and effort to single her out for attention right away.
He looked up at the crescent moon, sharp as a scythe in the night sky. "Eve, do you hear me?" he whispered. "Do you feel me?" Then he closed his eyes and tried to form a picture of Eve in his mind. Short red-brown hair, thin, strong body, intelligent face brimming with character. "You're not going to be easy. But I promise I will persevere."
In the meantime, he had this lesser woman, this Nancy Jo Norris, to do final honor.
He took the golden goblet that he had cupped between her folded hands on her breasts. "You're released, Nancy Jo. Take flight." He bent and kissed her lingeringly on the lips. She was already turning cool as her soul departed. "Have you forgiven me yet? Do you realize the gift I've given you?"
They were the questions he asked every time but to no avail. He must be patient. Someday, one of them would give him that reassurance.
Perhaps Eve Duncan ...
One final duty that was always pure pleasure.
"Nancy Jo Norris." He lifted the goblet to his lips, his gaze once more on the night sky and the cold, sharp sliver of moon. "Gift to Gift."
He drained the goblet.
THE CRESCENT MOON WAS bright and cold, tossing its icy glitter over the sleeping fields that bordered the highway leading toward the Atlanta airport.
Cold? Why had that word suddenly occurred to her, Eve wondered. She was on her way to pick up her adopted daughter, Jane, arriving from Paris, and until a few minutes ago she had been filled with warmth and excitement.
She was being foolish. She was still filled with that same love and excitement. This chill was only because it was the middle of the night and probably a carryover from the last few days Joe and she had spent in the swamp tracking down that monster, Henry Kistle. It had been a nightmare period when the serial killer had taken a little girl hostage to lure Eve to come after him. She could do nothing else when he had lied to her and told her that he was the one who had killed her little girl, Bonnie, all those years ago. The nightmare had taken on gigantic proportions when they discovered the island on which dozens of murdered children had been buried. Yes, that was enough to chill anyone to the bone.
Together with the realization that Joe Quinn was growing farther and farther away from her every minute she continued to search for the body of her murdered daughter, Bonnie. All the years of love and living together that might be coming to an end because she couldn't bear not to continue to try to bring her Bonnie home. Years ago, her child had been kidnapped and presumed murdered. When they later discovered that Ralph Fraser, who had confessed and been executed for multiple murders, was not the killer, she had started on the search to find the man who had taken her daughter.
And Joe had been with her through it all, giving her support and love. First as an FBI agent, then with the ATLPD, but always right beside her. He'd been there to pull her out of the depths of depression, give her encouragement when she'd decided to go back to school and become a forensic sculptor to help bring closure to other parents of children who had been lost. He had been her lover, her friend, her protector.
Until this last year, when he had grown weary and frustrated at the constant threat to Eve. That last danger from Henry Kistle might have been the final straw.
Don't think about it. Think about seeing Jane and the fact that Joe had not walked away from her yet. He'd been fine when she'd left home this morning. Maybe she could work out the —
Her cell phone rang. Jane.
"I'm on my way," she said when she picked up. "Was your flight early? I thought I had another thirty minutes."
"You probably have a hell of a lot more time than that," Jane said. "I'm in Charlotte, North Carolina. My plane had a mechanical problem and landed here. They're trying to put us on another flight. It looks like a two- or three-hour delay."
"Damn. Well, I'll come out and wait anyway."
"You will not. Go back home. I'll call you when I'm ready to board the flight."
Eve thought about it. "You're probably right. I should be able to get back in plenty of time to meet you at baggage claim."
"Sorry. I didn't want to put you to this trouble. I know how exhausted you must be. Not a very good start for my visit."
"Any way I can get you is a good start."
"Is Joe with you?"
"No, I left him in bed. He was even more exhausted than I was. He was at the precinct last night trying to put names to those dead children we found in the swamp."
She was silent a moment. "But your Bonnie wasn't one of them?"
"No." She couldn't speak for a moment as she remembered the agony of that realization. "Lord, I was praying that I'd find her, Jane."
"I know. That's why I hopped on that plane to come home. I know you have Joe, but I want to be there for you."
"Yes, I have Joe." She had to get off the phone until she could regain full control. Jane could always read her. "And I'm going to be happy as a clam to have you home. Call me." She hung up.
She hoped she had Joe. Dear God, life without Joe would be empty and without texture or substance, as cold as that moon shining above her.
Coldness, again. She couldn't shake it off.
She got off the exit and turned around. She would go home to the lake cottage and Joe. She would hold him and let his strength pour into her. Then maybe, after a little while, the chill would go away.
THE LIGHTS WERE ON IN THE kitchen, Eve noticed as she drove up to the cottage. Joe must not have been able to go back to sleep after she'd left. He was probably having coffee and waiting for her to bring Jane home.
But he wasn't in the kitchen, although the coffeemaker was on. Cups, saucers, and creamer had been set on the table in readiness. He wasn't in the bedroom either.
What the hell?
Then she heard him coming up the porch steps.
A moment later he came into the house. He was wearing his brown robe and slippers, and his hair was rumpled. She had bought the robe last Christmas because she always loved him in brown. It made his dark hair appear almost caramel-colored and his eyes a shimmering tea color. Everyone was usually only aware of the toughness that he radiated, and that was still there, but the hardness seemed to be softened by the rich color.
She smiled. "Where have you been? I was wondering what happened to you. I saw that the coffee was —" She stopped, her eyes widening as she saw his face. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," he said curtly. "I went for a walk in the woods."
"At this hour? Dressed like that?"
"Why not? I couldn't sleep." He went to the coffeemaker and poured a cup of coffee. "There's no law against it. I guarantee it. Who should know better than a cop?"
His tone was almost brutally sharp, and he was avoiding looking at her. But he was too late; she had already caught that first glimpse of his expression. Joe was seldom pale, but his color wasn't good now. The skin looked as if it was pulled taut over his cheekbones, and his brown eyes were glittering and appeared a little wild. Wild? Joe was never wild. He could be violent and reckless, but it was always under control.
"Why couldn't you sleep?"
"How the hell do I know? Maybe I was dreaming of those murdered kids on that island in the swamp. That's what my life has been about, hasn't it? Murdered kids." He took a swallow of coffee. "Or maybe just one murdered kid. Your kid. From the moment I met you, it's been all about Bonnie. It's enough to drive anyone nuts."
She stiffened in shock. It was true, their lives had revolved around Bonnie's death and disappearance all these years, but his harshness came as a blow. She supposed it shouldn't have hurt since she'd been aware that Joe was nearing the end of his patience. He'd given all his strength and knowledge to try to give her what she needed, and having her constantly in jeopardy was tearing him apart. "You're right, of course. No one knows better than I do what I put you through. You have a perfect right to want to escape from me and the situation."
He suddenly whirled on her. "I don't want to escape you," he said fiercely. "You're the only woman I've ever loved. From the first time I saw you, I knew that I had to stay with you. When the FBI sent me down to Atlanta to investigate your Bonnie's disappearance and probable death, who the hell would guess that I wouldn't be able to leave you. You'd lost a sweet seven-year-old little girl who meant the world to you. You were fragile and tragic and yet so damn strong that it blew me away. I wanted to fight all your dragons and give you whatever you wanted."
"You have," she said unevenly. "Only it's been a one-way street. I haven't fought any dragons for you. You deserve someone who will do that."
"Screw it. I knew what I was getting into when we came together." His eyes were blazing in his taut face. "But I haven't been able to kill your dragon, and I started wondering tonight if it's going to devour me."
"Tonight?" He had not been like this when she had left him to go to the airport. She had been aware of a slight withdrawal, but his attitude now was full of violence and explosive tension. She could almost feel the disturbance whirling around him. "Did something happen while I was gone?"
"Of course not. I told you I just went for a walk." He set his cup down on the counter and turned away. "And I'm tired of being cross-examined. I'm fine. Drop it, Eve."
"So fine that you haven't asked why Jane wasn't with me when I came back."
He looked back at her. "Is she okay?"
"Yes, her plane had a mechanical problem and had to land in Charlotte. She'll call me when she's ready to board again."
"That's good. I'm going to shower, then make some phone calls and go into work early. I have paperwork to do."
"Don't you dare leave this room," Eve said fiercely. "Something's wrong. I know it, dammit. Tell me."
"If there's something wrong, I can handle it by myself. I can fight my own dragons." Joe's words were jerky as he strode toward the door. "I don't need help."
"Joe, for God's sake, talk to me."
He didn't answer. She watched the bedroom door shut behind him. He was closing her out, mentally as well as physically.
She felt the pain soaring through her. She had known trouble was on the horizon, but she had thought she'd have time to try to work her way through it. What the hell had happened to escalate the situation?
Her cell phone rang. Jane.
She took a few seconds to pull herself together before she answered the call. "I wasn't expecting to hear from you so soon."
"They managed to fix the other plane. I'm boarding now. Do you want me to get a rental car?"
"Don't be silly. I'm on my way. I'll meet you at baggage claim."
Jane was silent for a moment. "You sound funny. Are you okay?"
"Sure. I'll be even better when I see you. Bye." She hung up.
Trust Jane to read her mood even long-distance. She hesitated as she cast a glance at the closed bedroom door. No, she wouldn't go in and tell Joe she was leaving for the airport. The closing of that door had been firm and final. She would give him time and hope that those dragons he was talking about would slink away into the darkness.
She left the house and ran down the porch steps to the car. But her eyes were stinging with tears, and she had to wait a moment before she pulled out of the driveway. Her hands clenched on the steering wheel as she stared blindly out into the darkness.
Joe's pain was all about Bonnie and Eve's obsession with finding her daughter's murderer. The hunt that had gone on for years. It was hurting him. She couldn't expect him to have empathy. He had never had a child. They had taken Jane from foster homes when she was ten, and by that time, Jane had been wise beyond her years. She had become their friend, not their child. Joe had never had the wonderful experiences that Eve had known of raising a little girl. That was why he would never understand why Eve couldn't let it go.
Because the memory of Bonnie would never let go. That night before Bonnie was taken was as fresh tonight as if it had happened yesterday.
Bonnie running into Eve's bedroom in her yellow pajamas with the orange clowns all over them. Her wild red curls were bouncing, and her face was lit with her luminous smile.
"Mama, Lindsey says her mother is going to let her wear her Goofy T- shirt to the park tomorrow for the school picnic. Can I wear my Bugs Bunny T-shirt?"
Eve looked up from her English Lit book open on the desk in front of her. "It's not can, it's may, baby. And yes, you may wear Bugs tomorrow." She smiled. "We wouldn't want Lindsey to put you in the shade."
"I wouldn't care. She's my friend. You said we always had to want the best for our friends."
"Yes, we do. Now run along to bed."
Bonnie didn't move. "I know you're studying for your test, but could you read me a story?" She added coaxingly, "I thought maybe a very, very, short one?"
"Your grandmother loves to read you stories, baby."
Bonnie came closer and whispered, "I love Grandma. But it's always special when you read it to me. Just a short one ..."
Eve glanced at her Lit book. She'd be up until after midnight as it was studying for that exam. She looked at Bonnie's pleading face. Oh, to hell with it. Bonnie was the reason Eve was working for her degree anyway. She was the reason for every action Eve took in life. Why cheat either one of them? "Run and choose a storybook." She pushed her textbook aside and stood up. "And it doesn't have to be a short one."
Bonnie's expression could have lit up Times Square. "No, I promise ..." She ran out of the room. She was back in seconds with a Dr. Seuss book. "This will be quick, and I like the rhymes."
Eve sat down in the blue-padded rocking chair that she'd used since Bonnie was a newborn. "Climb up. I like Dr. Seuss too."
"I know you do." Bonnie scrambled up in her lap and cuddled close. "But since it's such a short book, can — may I have my song too?"
"I think that's a reasonable request," Eve said solemnly. The two of them had their little traditions, and every night since she was a toddler, Bonnie had loved to share a song with Eve. Eve would sing the first line, and Bonnie would sing the next. "What's it to be tonight?"
"'All the Pretty Little Horses.'" She turned around on Eve's lap and hugged her with all her might. "I love you, Mama."
Eve's arms closed around her. Bonnie's riot of curls was soft and fragrant against her cheek, and her small body was endearingly vital and sturdy against Eve. Lord, she was lucky. "I love you, too, Bonnie."
Bonnie let her go and flopped back around to cuddle in the curve of her arm. "You start, Mama."
"Hushabye, don't you cry," Eve sang softly.
Bonnie's thin little voice chimed. "Go to sleep, little baby."
The moment was so precious, so dear. Eve's arms held Bonnie closer and she could feel the tightening of her throat as she sang. "When you wake, you shall have ..."
Bonnie's voice was only a wisp of sound. "All the pretty little horses ..."
Excerpted from Blood Game by Iris Johansen. Copyright © 2009 Johansen Publishing LLLP. 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Forensic sculpture Eve Duncan goes home after a complex mentally draining case that featured the murders of several children (see QUICKSAND). She opens her refrigerator to find a goblet with blood stains inside. It looks identical to a goblet found by the corpse of nineteen year old Nancy Jo Norris; the blood had been drained from the U.S. senator's daughter. Eve's lover FBI agent Joe Quinn apparently can now see dead people; at least two that is: Nancy Jo and Eve's daughter Bonnie. He assumes that he somehow obtained this paranormal skill from psychic Megan Blair (see QUICKSAND and PANDORA'S DAUGHTER). The ghosts thirst for blood so assist the human sleuths on a search for a wannabe Dracula copy cat killer. This is an exciting Eve Duncan serial killer thriller that increases dramatically the paranormal elements. Eve remains restless, but Joe has proven to be a comfort for her as Bonnie haunts her emotionally and haunts him directly. The story line is fast-paced as Eve and Joe with help from beyond hunt a vampire killer, but gothic overtones detract from the suspense as the lead couple is too well known by fans for the pair to be overly melodramatic. Still BLOOD GAME is a fascinating Duncan investigative tale. Harriet Klausner
I have loved reading the Eve Duncan novels in the past, but the last couple have been very disappointing, especially "Blood Game". Ms. Johansen has just gotten too much into "hocus pocus" type stories. It takes away from the strong characters and relationships that I have enjoyed, and borders on just plain silly. I liked Eve Duncan novels because they were mystery-thrillers with complicated and interesting characters. I liked that she left it up to the reader to decide if Bonnie visiting Eve was a "ghost" or a dream. Now she has taken away that choice, and made the series something unenjoyable for those who don't want to read books with the occult in them. I will be unlikely to read any more of the Eve Duncan series unless I see an indication that Ms. Johansen is moving back away from this theme.
Iris continues to deliver on the Eve Duncan series. She does a wonderful job at adding new story lines that can continue this series of characters while introducing new ones for future books. If you have read the Eve series you will be happy with this next page in her journey. I will say, if you have followed the series she leaves a few things open that make you wonder. They do not relate to the true story line but reference past relationships from other books in the series. You will not find it distracting from the story line.
Another great book by Iris Johansen. I have read almost all of her books and all of the books in the Eve Duncan series. I have to say this book was really good. Once I started could not put it down. It continued where Quicksand left off. Can not wait till the next.
This was a good additon to this series! Also liked how Iris is starting to bring in the supernatural in and explaining more about Bonnie's life and her death. Can't wait for the next installment in this series.
Once again Iris Johansen has written a great book in the Eve Duncan Forensics series. Eve, her boyfriend Joe, and "adopted" daughter Jane, with the help of Seth Caleb, attempt to stop a serial killer who thinks that by drinking people's blood he will be an all powerful vampire. I look forward to the next book in the series to see if Eve will ever find the body of her daughter, Bonnie, who was kidnapped years ago.
Eve Duncan is back. She is still looking for Bonnie and she has still never mentioned to Joe that she "talks" to Bonnie in her "dreams". Joe has started to see and talk to Bonnie as well as another murder victim after his brush with an active psychic in the previous novel. Joe comes to terms with this "insanity" and uses the ability to talk to a murder victim to attempt to capture her murderer, Jelak. Jelak is also in pursuit of Eve and Jane... Eve will bring Jelak immortality as a vampire/god, he just needs to drink her life force through her blood....
I waited and waited for this book. I added it to every wish list available to see how I could get it quicker. And well.....I'm bummed. Yes, I think that this gets us closer to the end when it comes to Bonnie, and figuring out how Eve and Joe are going to make it, but this is not nearly as good as other books in the series. Not even close!It's a good mystery. And it brings in Megan Blair from a past book in the series. Megan's involvement and impact on Joe is by far the best thing that came out of this book. While normally Eve is busy with her work, it's totally sidelined in this book and I found that I mised that. As usual, Jane is a part of the drama and finds herself in danger of being bait for deranged killer who is after Eve. Montalvo makes an appearance in this book and I'm curious as to where that's leading.I read the book in only a couple of days even though I wasn't really interested in the mystery or crime. I was more interested in how all the individual pieces were going to piece into other coming boooks in the series. I kept hoping for more, but that hope will have to carry over to the next book in the series due out in 2010.
This started out great, but the tension dropped away except for the villain. He was strong.
This one was way too paranormal for me. Got ridiculous. Caleb was just too far out there. Get back to reasonably normal stuff, for goodness sake. Stephanie Clanahan
Is this bloodclan?
At erin hunter res two!!!
Fangpaw- backs up super scared of the four <p> Pestalince- she stands tall the green fog spreading <p> War- his fire spreads across his whole pelt <p> Famine- the toxic stuff driping from her quickens and kills the pants arond her <p> Death- "Answer us NOW!" He shouted and the white mist swirls and thickens and atomaticly kills a egale that was flyint over
Heres the mysterious cat and walks toward him
She walks around
He watched everyone . <br> ~ SleekPath ~ <br> <br> She smiled and dipped her head . "Thank you ." She meowed , eyeing him with curiousity . <br> - FangNight -
Deathheart pads in with a bag of rolls she snuck from twolegs. HAPPY THANKSGIVING BLOODCLAN!!!!!!!!!!
My nook is broken! Im using somebody else's nook. Plz help me and tell me how to fix it!
Walks in and looks 4 a place 2 put nest
Pads around looking for something to do. She desperately wishes she had someone to play with.
Ran in and attacked
I want u to prove t!" Where is it
Mutters about something. Sorry gtg bbl.
Growled low from her tree, grumbling... <p> Storm padded around, looking for the cay dis<.>sing his mother. <p> Outkit peeped from her nest, her nose just on the edge of it. She sneezed and watched.