CHASING THE NIGHT by Iris Johansen
By SMW Staff
Eve Duncan is a forensic sculptor whose mission in life is to bring closure to the families whose children have gone missing. She is able to piece together the bone fragments and re-create their faces. She is driven, she is intuitive, and she is haunted because her own daughter, Bonnie, was stolen from her so many years before. Bonnie has never been found.
Catherine Ling is a CIA agent who is as tormented as Eve. Her young son, Luke, was taken from her when he was only two years old, as an act of revenge against Catherine. For nine years, she hasn’t known if Luke is alive or dead. But she knows exactly who took him…
If Eve can re-create Luke’s face the way he would look now, at age eleven, Catherine has a chance at finding him. If Catherine gets closer to the truth, she may put Eve, and all those she loves, in the path of evil and vengeance. If Luke is actually alive, can he still be the son Catherine lost.
About Iris Johansen
IRIS JOHANSEN is the New York Times bestselling author of Blood Game, Deadlock, 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.
An Excerpt of CHASING THE NIGHT
Eve Duncan shuddered as she looked down at the pitiful remains of the little girl’s skull that she’d carefully spread on the special tarp on her desk.
The child’s skull was shattered, and the cheekbones and nasal and orbital bones were only unidentifiable splinters. The Detroit Police Department thought that the child had been beaten to death with a hammer. How the hell was she going to put that little girl’s face together again?
Eve glanced at Joe Quinn sitting on the couch across the room. “You’re damn right I am.” She reached out and gently touched one of the little girl’s remaining facial bones still left intact. “Whoever killed this child had to be insane. Who would think it necessary to do this . . . this monstrosity? She couldn’t have been more than eight years old.”
“And after hundreds of these reconstructions, it still makes you furious.” His lips tightened. “Me, too. You’d think we’d get used to it. But that never happens, does it?”
Yes, Joe might be a tough, experienced police detective, but he could be as emotional as Eve when the victims were helpless children. “Sometimes I can block it. But this savagery . . . A hammer, Joe. He used a hammer . . .”
“Son of a bitch.” Joe got up and moved across the room to stand behind her. “Have you given her a name yet?”
Eve always gave her reconstructions names while she worked on them. It made her feel a connection while she strove desperately to give a name and identity to those poor, murdered children who had been thrown away. She shook her head. “Not yet. I just got the skull by FedEx this afternoon. Detroit forensics warned me to expect this, but it still came as a shock.”
“It looks like a lost cause.” Joe was gazing down at the splintered bones. “It’s going to be a nightmare putting her back together. How do you know you’ve got all the pieces?”
“I don’t. But there’s a good chance. Forensics thinks that she was already completely wrapped in the yellow plastic raincoat in which he buried her when her murderer started this carnage. Maybe he just wanted to make sure that she was dead or that no one would ever recognize her.”
“This one is going to tear you up.” Joe reached out and began to massage her neck. “You’re already tense, and you haven’t even started.”
“I’ve started.” She closed her eyes as his thumbs dug gently into exactly the right spot on the center of her neck. After all of these years of living together, he knew every muscle, every pleasure point of her body. He was right, she was tense. She would take this brief moment before she began to work. Joe’s touch, Joe’s support. It was a soothing song that helped to drown out the ugliness of the world. Once she actually began the reconstruction, there would be only her and this child, who had lost her life over ten years ago. They would be bound together in darkness until Eve could finish working and shine a light that would bring the little girl home.
And she would bring her home. She’d give her back her face, then let the media publish a photo and surely someone would recognize her. “I started the moment I saw what that bastard had done to her.”
“You haven’t given her a name yet,” Joe said. “Tell Detroit to give her to Josephson to do the reconstruction. You may be the best, but you’re not the only forensic sculptor in the country. You’ve got a backlog of requests that will keep you slaving for the next six months. You don’t need this kind of pressure.”
“She didn’t need for some creep to do this to her.” She opened her eyes and gazed down at the broken skull. “She’s my job, Joe.” She thought for a moment. “And her name is Cindy.” She straightened in her chair. “Now let me get to work.”
“Dammit.” He stepped back, and his hands dropped away from her. “I knew it was a long shot, but I thought I’d give it a try. You’ve been working yourself to exhaustion for the last few months.” He wheeled and went back to the couch. “Go ahead. Break your heart trying to put that kid back together again. Why should I care?”
“I don’t know, Joe.” She smiled. “But I thank God you do.” She looked down at the bone splinters that might belong to the nasal cavity . . . or might not. “And Cindy will forgive you for trying to push her off on Josephson.”
“I’m relieved,” he said dryly. “But I’ll take my chances on being in her bad graces. After all, she’s been dead ten years. At the moment, you’re the only one I care about. I don’t want—”
Eve’s cell phone rang.
She glanced at the ID.
“Who is it?” Joe asked.
He frowned. “Not good.”
That was Eve’s reaction. They had dealt with Venable and the CIA on several occasions, and it usually ended with her being pulled away from her work and into deep trouble. Not this time.
She punched the button on her cell. “What do you want, Venable?”
“Why are you on the defensive?” Venable asked. “Maybe I only want to check in and see if you’re okay. You were in a hospital in Damascus recovering from a gunshot wound the last time I saw you.”
“That was six months ago, and I’m sure that you know I’m fully recovered. You make it your business to know everything.”
“I’m not the NSA. I’m only interested in specific subjects . . . and people. I feel a certain attachment for you and Joe.”
“What do you want, Venable?”
He hesitated. “A favor.”
“What kind of favor?”
“Nothing that’s dangerous or out of your realm of expertise. I’d like you to do a computer age progression.”
“It wouldn’t take you that long, and I’d appreciate it.”
“I’m swamped, and even if I weren’t, you know I won’t work for the CIA. Get one of your own experts to do the job. You have qualified people. Some of them are far more experienced than I am with computer age progression. I don’t even know why you’re bothering to ask me.”
“Because I have to ask you, dammit,” he said sourly. “It has to be you.”
“Because like everything else in my life, it’s a question of bargaining and balancing. I need you to do this, Eve.”
“Then you’re going to be disappointed. I just started a new reconstruction, and I won’t drop it for one of your twisted little jobs. I’m not going to help you identify someone so that you can track him down. I’m never sure whether the prey you’re stalking is a saint or a slimeball. Or if he’s a saint, that you’re not using him in ways that I’d never go along with. You’re capable of manipulating anyone to shape a deal.”
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