From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Silencing Eve (January 2014) comes Shattered Mirror, a new explosive thriller featuring forensic sculptor Eve Duncan.
Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan is once again thrown into a deadly game of intrigue when she receives a cryptic package containing a skull and a two sided mirror. Eve is determined to reconstruct the skull and uncover the mystery of the person’s identity, and when she does, the face of a beautiful woman begins to emerge. But who is she?
As Eve gets closer and closer to finding the answer, she becomes swept up in a lethal chase that spans continents and threatens to destroy the family that she has worked so hard to bring together. Eve and her team must work quickly to discover who is behind the murder – and maybe even prevent more loss of life. But how do you fight a killer who is willing to destroy anyone as a means to an end?
No one is safe in #1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen’s next explosive, high-stakes thriller that will keep readers on the edge of their seat through every heart-pounding chapter.
Hometown:Near Atlanta, Georgia
The lights in the lake cottage sent out a cozy glow that lit the banks of the lake and made that house of death appear welcoming. Everything about the place and property spoke of beauty and a deceptive invitation that made one think that all was well with this world.
Because she was there, Rory Norwalk thought, as he moved a few steps closer, his gaze on the cottage. She was the heart of the house, the one who destroyed the balance, who had ruined everything when she could have saved. She claimed that she was a mender, a fixer, but Norwalk knew that was all lies.
He was the one who would fix what was broken. Eve Duncan only interfered and made a mockery of what was true and right. But that was going to stop; he couldn't permit it any longer.
He stepped back in the shadow of the trees as a Jeep drove up into the driveway.
It was the father and the son. It was the little boy who had laughed. He laughed a lot; careless, joyous laughter that was as deceptive as this house. How could he be joyous when he lived with that woman who was so evil? Because he was evil, too? Norwalk had suspected it and was almost certain that the boy, Michael, would have to be fixed.
"Stay here," Joe Quinn told his son as he got out of the car and started up the porch steps. "I'll do it, but you'll owe me, Michael. She told you not to do it again."
"He wouldn't listen," Michael protested. "I tried, Dad. Just explain so that she won't get upset. Okay?"
"No, it's not okay. But I'll call you in after I break it to her." He'd reached the porch, and he looked back down at the little boy in the car. "You sit there and think about what you're going to say to your mother. And you start off with telling her that you're not going to do it again."
"But I may have to do it again," the little boy said quietly. "I can't lie to her."
Joe Quinn sighed. "No, you can't. We'll think of something." He disappeared into the house.
Leaving the little boy alone in the car.
The boy was not often left alone, Norwalk knew. He was only six, and his mother was very careful since they lived on the lake. And Joe Quinn was a police detective, and he was wary of everything and everyone.
Was this moment of abandonment meant to be a sign to Norwalk? It was not why he was here, though he'd mentally already accepted that down the road it must be done. He was very quick, and children were so gullible. It would only take a few moments. He instinctively moved faster through the trees, his gaze on the boy in the Jeep.
But the boy was no longer in the Jeep.
He'd gotten out of the vehicle and was standing on the last porch step. He was dressed in jeans and a navy-blue sweatshirt and his legs were slightly parted. The light from the porch light was burnishing his red-brown hair as if it were a copper helmet.
Helmet? Why had that word occurred to him, Norwalk wondered. It was because the boy's bearing looked almost military, he realized. He looked like a soldier guarding a fortress. Ridiculous.
As ridiculous as the idea that the boy was looking directly to where Norwalk was standing under the trees and could see him. It was pitch-dark, there was no way he could be seen.
But that little boy knew he was there.
And he was not afraid.
Norwalk instinctively faded farther back in the trees.
Oh, he had been right to judge that Michael Quinn would also have to be taken out before that cozy house would be cleansed of all that was broken.
But not right now.
Just a little longer, Sean. I'm just as eager as you, but we have to keep to the plan, don't we?
And all good things came to he who was willing to wait.
* * *
"Lord, you smell good." Joe slid his hands around Eve's waist from behind. "Fried onions and bacon. Is there any scent more appetizing?"
"It depends if you're hungry." She turned around and went into his arms. "Not exactly an alluring perfume if the aim is seduction."
"Is that the aim? If it is, you must have gotten the reconstruction off today."
She nodded. "This afternoon." She chuckled. "But since when did work stop us?" She leaned back, and her gaze narrowed on his face. "And since when did you decide to pussyfoot around instead of coming out with what you're thinking?"
He sighed. "I was trying for mellow and soothing. I promised Michael I'd do my best."
She went still. "Do your best to do what?"
"Break it to you gently."
"He has a few bruises and a swollen lip."
"What?" She pushed him away. "Who?"
She swore beneath her breath. "Same reason?"
He nodded. "He did what you told him to do. The kid wouldn't listen. Boys aren't usually receptive to persuasion or reason at that age."
"He's a bully."
"And a head taller than Michael. I saw this Gary Walden when I picked Michael up from soccer practice tonight."
"That's the third time that he's come home with bruises. The soccer coach should have stepped in and stopped it."
"Probably didn't know about it. Michael wouldn't complain. You know that."
Yes, she knew very well that Michael would keep his silence. Her son would quietly take whatever came his way and try to work his way through to a solution. That had been the way he handled problems from the time he was a toddler. Only this time the punishment he was taking was because of her, dammit. "Maybe I should talk to this Gary's mother."
"Which might make it worse for Michael."
And that was why she had been avoiding doing that. "Kids can be savages."
"Absolutely," Joe said. "And TV and pop culture have led them to think that to latch onto something out of the ordinary and make fun of it is the way to go. But Michael will get bigger and stronger." His lips tightened. "I've signed him up for a karate class. And a few more lessons in karate from me will even out the odds in the meantime. The problem will go away."
Her lips twisted. "And this Gary will no longer tell Michael his mother is some kind of a ghoul who collects skulls for a hobby?" "Not where Michael can hear him." He smiled. "Come on, you're the foremost forensic sculptor in the world. What difference does it make what that kid says?"
"It matters if it hurts Michael."
"It doesn't hurt Michael," Joe said. "You know that, Eve. He's only worried that it will upset you." His hand reached out and touched her cheek. "That's why he wanted me to break those damn bruises to you. He only wants to make certain that nothing ever hurts you." He leaned forward, kissed her gently, and drew her close. "That's what we all want. You know how smart Michael is. So give him a little time to work this out for himself."
"He's only six, Joe." Her words were muffled against his chest.
"Going on thirty. You've always known he's not like other kids."
Yes, she'd known from the time Michael had been conceived that he was wonderful and special and he had never disappointed her. He was superintelligent and had the sweetest nature on the planet. But that didn't mean it wasn't her job to keep on protecting him. She had lost her daughter, Bonnie, who was only seven when she had died after being taken. It had nearly broken her heart. Michael was almost that age now, and whenever she thought about it, the fear returned. Block it. It wasn't fair to Michael to live anything but a full and joyous life. "Yeah, I know. But maybe I'm not quite as grown up. I need a little bolstering on occasion." She pushed him away. "Okay, I suppose you left him outside until you paved the way for him?"
Joe nodded. "In the Jeep. I told him I'd give him a call when you were ready for him."
"I'm always ready for him." She headed for the front door. "Watch the potatoes for me, Joe?"
"Sure." He turned back to the stove. "Tell him, I did my best."
"He knows that you would." She smiled back at him. "And you'd better be quick about getting him very good at that karate. I don't know how many of these sessions I can take."
"An eternity," he said softly. "I know you, Eve."
He was right, she thought. There were no limits for her where Michael was concerned.
She went out on the porch. "Okay, Michael. Come out and face the music. Your father has given me the lowdown and he tried to —" She stopped. Michael was not in the Jeep, and there was something about the way he was standing on that bottom step that was ... odd. "Michael?"
He turned and gave her a radiant smile that lit his entire face. "I'm coming, Mama." He turned and ran up the stairs. "I was just looking out at the lake. It's pretty tonight, isn't it?" He hugged her. "I'm hungry. Can we eat before you yell at me about Gary?"
She held him close for an instant. "That might be possible." She released him and opened the front door. "I thought you might want to stay out here on the porch and have it out first."
"Nah." His smile took on a hint of mischief. "I know Dad made sure that you wouldn't be too mad at me. He's a guy, too. He knows about these things." He glanced at the lake and woods, then turned and headed for the door. "I don't want to stay out here. I'd rather go in with you and eat supper ..."
* * *
"Okay, talk to me," Eve said as she cuddled Michael closer to her on the couch after supper. "I told you that if you couldn't handle Gary yourself, you were to go to your teacher. Why didn't you do it?"
"He would have got in trouble."
"And he didn't hurt me that bad. He was just scared."
"He didn't act very scared," she said dryly as she touched his bruised cheek. "And your dad said he's much bigger than you."
He nodded. "But he's still scared."
She looked down at him with narrowed eyes. "Why?"
"Because I'm not afraid of what you do, and he is," he said simply.
She stiffened. "That ghoul name he called me?"
"His dad was killed in a car wreck last year. Gary's all confused, and he doesn't like to think about it. I make him think about it. All those skulls that you work on bother him."
"No, I make him think about it." Her arm tightened around him. "I was wondering if it was my fault. I didn't know about his father. Maybe I should go talk to his mother."
He shook his head. "It would only make her feel bad. Sometime, Gary will let me talk to him about you. Then it will be okay."
"But it's not okay now. And what can you say to him that will make it okay then?"
"I'll tell him that you work on those skulls to bring those people home. That they're lost, and you have to help them." He looked up at her. "That's what you told me that first time I asked you. Remember?"
"I don't remember you asking me." She smiled. "But maybe you did. You always seemed to understand my work and why I was doing it." She did remember Michael coming close to her worktable when he was only a couple years old and touching the skull of a young girl she was reconstructing. There had been such gentleness, such intensity of thought in his expression that she had been stunned. Then, after a moment, he had smiled and gone back to his toys across the room. "I don't like the idea of waiting around until this Gary comes to his senses on his own. I may have to take action if you won't."
He nodded. "I know. But I think it's going to be okay. He doesn't like what he's doing to me. It scares him almost as much as the stuff he won't ask me about your skulls and the people who are dead like his dad."
And how had Michael realized that? Eve just had to accept that he did. She had stopped trying to understand where those flashes of deep understanding came from. Even before the moment of his birth she had known that Michael possessed a kind of psychic connection with her, and who knew what other depths he might have? She didn't believe he wanted her to know, or maybe he didn't know himself. Either way, most of the time Michael appeared to be just a bright, happy six-year-old who was perfectly content in his life. It was only with her and Joe that he let his guard down and was totally honest.
She hoped. There were moments when she wasn't certain that Michael was entirely open even with them. It didn't matter as long as she knew that Michael loved them both, they could work on everything else. "It's bad for Gary to think he can hurt you. I don't want him to turn into a bully or you a victim. So you'll try one more time, then I'll have a talk with him." She held up her hand. "Not his mother. Okay?"
Michael nodded. "He's close to it, Mama. It's the death thing. He's missing his dad. It scares him."
"Then we'll try to explain and make the fear go away." She gave him a kiss on the forehead and got to her feet. "Now go take your shower and get to bed."
He grinned as he jumped to his feet. "Soon as I say good night to Dad." He headed toward the back of the house. "And tell him that you didn't yell too much at me. He'll want to know." He turned back. "Did Cara send me that CD of her last concert that she promised me last week?"
She nodded. "Morning mail. It's on your nightstand. You can play it through once. Just once. Then you turn it off and go to sleep."
"Once is enough. After that, it will play in my head until I fall asleep. It does that to you, too, doesn't it, Mama?"
"Yes." Cara Delaney was Eve and Joe's ward and one of the most magnificent violinists Eve had ever heard. She was only eighteen and a student at Carnegie Tech in New York, but she had already been a guest artist at several venues, and this CD was the one from a benefit concert at the university in Phoenix. She had been with them since before Michael was born, and Eve could not have wanted a more devoted or loving sister for her son. The two talked every week on the phone, and when Cara managed to come home, they were practically inseparable. "She texted me and said she might have a break next week or the week after."
"She's coming home?" His face lit up. "That would be great. When will she know?"
Eve shrugged. "Soon. She's trying to arrange things. We'll know when she does. She asked if Jane was going to be able to get away at the same time. She might be trying to coordinate her time with Jane's." But Jane MacGuire, her adopted daughter, had a schedule that was almost tighter than Cara's. She was an artist and her agent had her constantly making public appearances at galley exhibits in London. "I don't think she has a chance. Jane's supposed to be in Paris all this month."
Michael looked disappointed. "Maybe."
Eve nodded. "Maybe. But at least we'll have Cara. You know Jane gets here whenever she can."
"Yes. I just miss her." He turned and started back down the hall. "It would be nice ..."
More than nice, Eve thought. She believed in family and having Jane and Cara out in the world and not being able to see them as much as she'd like brought a constant ache. But she was being selfish, she couldn't have everything. Life was so incredibly good these days with Joe and Michael, and the occasional visits from Cara and Jane were like additional jewels in the crown. So she would accept what she was given with thanks and enjoy every single minute.
She flipped open her computer on the coffee table and checked for recent requests from police departments around the country. She usually did that on the day she sent the latest reconstruction back to its originator. She had a tremendous backlog of requests, but if anything appeared urgent that couldn't —
"Be back in ten minutes or so." Joe had come out of the bedroom and was slipping on his jacket. "Just want to check on something."
"Check on what?"
Her eyes widened. "What?"
"Michael thought he saw a bear earlier tonight in the woods on that west bank."
"He never mentioned it to me."
"But you were too busy giving him a lecture. He probably didn't have time." He headed for the door. "And it's probably nothing. It was pretty dark out there. I don't know how he could see anything."
"But you're checking it anyway."
"He hit me where I live." He smiled at her. "He asked if maybe I should tell you that you shouldn't go around the lake until I was sure." He opened the door. "What could I say? Be right back."
Eve watched the door shut behind him.
Strange. Yet there had been that moment when she had first seen Michael on that bottom step, and she had been aware of a tense ... alertness.
A bear? There had been no bear sightings in this area for the last couple years.
Michael had thought something was wrong and had not spoken to her but gone to his father and told him he should protect her.
She could hear Michael's shower running now.
He had finished with what he had wanted to do with Joe and was going about his life.
Yet he had thought something was wrong ...
She instinctively moved toward the front door.
And that wrong must not touch Joe.
Whenever Joe went into the woods, he was always armed, but she didn't like him to be alone out there.
She stood on the porch, her eyes straining toward the west bank.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Shattered Mirror"
Copyright © 2018 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.
Praise for Iris Johansen:
"A tantalizing puzzle...fans of paranormal suspense will be rewarded." Publishers Weekly
“This first-rate novel of romantic suspense will please Johansen’s many fans and newcomers alike.” Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) on Hide Away
“Sure to appeal to all fans of romantic suspense.” Publishers Weekly on Night and Day
“Eve Duncan novels by Johansen are so good that, supernatural or not, readers and fans remain completely engaged.” Suspense Magazine on Shadow Play
“Delivering gut-wrenching emotion and spine-tingling suspense is what Johansen does best, and when you add in a touch of the supernatural...you get the perfect storm of a thriller! Johansen never disappoints!” RT Book Reviews on Your Next Breath2018-02-06