Bibliophile reviews The Search by Iris Johansen

Year of publication: 2000
Genre: Romantic thriller (with brief and mild descriptions of sex; some paranormal elements)
Setting & time: USA (mostly), S-America, Taiwan

Story: Rich and powerful John Logan forces dog trainer Sarah and her trusty search dog Monty to help him find a missing person. Unlike a previous book where the person was dead, this one is alive and has been kidnapped by Logan's arch-enemy, his former brother in law who could never forgive Logan for taking his sister away from him. There is also the small matter of having been sent to prison in a Thailand hell-hole for 15 years by Logan. (If you think this is a spoiler, think again – this all comes out early on in the story). The man is wreaking systematic revenge on Logan by destroying people and places he cares for, and once he discovers that Sarah is helping Logan, he incorporates her into his plans for total revenge.

Here is where the SPOILERS start.

Review: Reading this book feels like reading a story written to be serialised in a magazine rather than a novel. It is episodic in nature and each episode ends neatly with a mini-climax, after which another episode begins that has a slightly bigger mini-climax, all building up to the big one, and unfortunately they don't always connect well, which is why it reminds me of a serial. This is not to say that Johansen doesn't know how to write a thrilling and entertaining story. She does. But knowing that Sarah and Logan were side-characters in a previous book makes me wonder if maybe this book was written more to fulfil the wishes of readers or editors who wanted more of them rather than the author herself wanting to, because I get the feeling she doesn't quite know what to do with the characters. For example, the scene where they all of a sudden discover each other sexually and jump into bed together because a crude remark made by her estranged former lover makes them fall in lust, is not convincing at all. Apart from a couple of lustful thoughts fleetingly described earlier, there is hardly any build-up to this event, and afterwards they are suddenly in love (although trying not to be), which is even less likely considering she still thinks he is untrustworthy and selfish. The side-romance is allowed much more build-up and is a lot more entertaining.

The thriller elements are much better done than the romance and make for a good yarn. The paranormal element is interesting and done in such a way that a sceptic can interpret it logically and a believer can take it as it is written.

Rating: An entertaining thriller. 2+ stars.


John Ottinger said…
I thought you might be interested in the New Notions 5 Reading Challenge.
Bibliophile said…
Sounds interesting. My first 52 books challenge was partly about something similar, although I kept a literary slant on it and tried to read as many new genres as I could.

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