And Then You Die

Face of Deception


Killer Dreams

The Killing Game

Dark Summer
by Iris Johansen
(St. Martinís, $26.95, PG) ISBN 978-0-312-36808-1
Bestselling romantic suspense author Iris Johansen adds a paranormal element in her latest book to fashion a complicated plot featuring strong characters. †

A small Caribbean Island sustains a 7.5 earthquake and Search and Rescue personnel and their dogs from abroad rush to the scene. Veterinarian Devon Brady is there with her greyhound Gracie and meets Jude Marrok, owner of a Labrador retriever named Ned who has found survivors in an area rescuers had abandoned.

After doing so, Ned is shot by a sniper and Marrok entrusts him to Devonís care. Marrok disappears, leaving Devon a note asking her to care for Ned stating that he will pick him up later. Marrok goes in search of the sniper and Devon overcomes a myriad of paperwork and returns home with Ned. †

Marrok is part Apache and because of his drunken father became the ward of Paco, a shaman. Paco partially overcame Marrokís rage at his dysfunctional father and his mother who deserted him, sharing with the young man many of his mystical secrets. †

Paco loves his dogs of summer, which are known to the Apaches as shiíiígo and are believed to be possessed of a mystical healing power. The knowledge of this ability has leaked out and the evil Danner is trying to capture or kill one of these animals to identify the source of the healing power. Marrok, who commits his life to the responsibility for the welfare of these dogs, splits the animals up entrusting each one to a guardian. †

After killing the sniper, Marrok finds Ned and picks him up. But, realizing that he has put Devon at risk, he puts in place plans to move her and her animal entourage to his ranch. All of this places Danner and his cast of felons and Marrok and his multiple guardians and support systems on a collision course. †

Iris Johansen has crafted a plot based on mystical healing abilities, as people and animals who are near the dogs usually heal. The characters are developed more often than not, by dialogue which means the reader must be paying close attention in order to gain a full understanding of those characters. Unfortunately, this dialogue is often stilted and repetitive, and the story seems to drag midway in preparation for the final denouement. †

A romantic spark has been ignited between Marrok and Devon, an unlikely pair, and this attraction seems to float along independent of the mounting tension. There are a plethora of supporting characters. †

From the ending one can certainly project that a sequel or series is in the offing for Marrok, Devon and the dogs of summer. † †

--Thea Davis

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