28 August, 2011

Review: Quinn by Iris Johansen

This one sucks. It's rare that I say a book was a complete waste of my time. Quinn was not only a waste of that time, it made me feel my investment in the Eve Duncan series was misguided. I'll address Quinn as a book first.


Quinn jumps through times, events and people so quickly that readers will need to have read Eve (at the very least) to keep up. Divided roughly into thirds, the first third deals with the meeting of Joe and Eve, the second with the people surrounding them at present, and the last with a relationship between a side character and Bonnie's father. Ending with a sharp cliffhanger, Quinn offers no resolution for a one book reader and little plot advancement for a long time fan. Johansen's work has been very erratic for the last few years. Quinn easily belongs in the bottom tier of her work. While Quinn hits paperback in November, (just four months after it's hardcover release) I suggest skipping this volume entirely and continuing on (if you must) to Bonnie.

All of that said, it's time for some spoilers. In this recasting of the first meeting of Eve and Joe, Joe finds himself in love with Eve scant days into their acquaintance. While the staple of instant attraction is an old one in romance the long time reader will recall that at one point Joe Quinn was married. Subsequent books hinted that Joe had married simply to provide Eve with female companionship, but this version of their relationship makes that explicit. Joe's wife does not exist in Quinn, he has not even met her. This means at some point Joe is going to knowingly seduce and wed a woman he does not love and then express anger at her when she is jealous of his unexpressed feelings for Eve. It is not a case of Joe not having recognized how he felt about Eve when he married, he knows it. Our hero is going to completely tank some woman's life as he tries to help Saint Eve find Bonnie of Nazarene. Also, all that stuff where he pulls the class card on Eve during her relationship with John Logan? Joe is rich too. He might not be a billionaire, but he is a trust fund baby. Nice. Ok, so now that we've blasted a hole through the interpersonal dynamics of the early books we can move on.

Quinn is so far removed from the Eve Duncan I fell in love with. This series is like an abusive relationship for me. Every time I try to leave the carrot of resolution is held out. (I swore off Eve Duncan books right before this trilogy was announced. With Eve I thought we were nudging closer to the right track, but Quinn is off the rails.) When we first met Eve she was a hard working recluse who was driven by her work to resolve deaths for other families. Remember her? When is the last time Eve worked on anything? Saint Eve brings all the crime lords to her yard as she dips into the world of mercenaries, psychics and sadistic killers without finding her daughter or a grave for herself. People meet Eve and they are willing to give their lives for her. Eve, carrying the standard for Bonnie of Nazarene, charges blindly into every fray. Bonnie started out as a cute kid whose unsolved murder was the catalyst for her mother's valuable career as a forensic artist. Now she appears to people in psychic visions and is a perfect shining beacon of light. She can lead the dying back to life, instruct the living on their next move, and sing songs to captured prisoners across the world. If she had a loaf, she'd turn it into fish. She isn't a kid anymore, she's a cult leader.

This is another problem. When we met Eve and her daughter they were normal people in a tragic situation working toward improving the lives of other victims. Now Eve commands a multinational task force, seemingly unlimited government resources, and the belief that she can judge who lives or dies. She's a tyrant. These same shadowy government types working all around her have lifted this hard working single mother to an iconic figure. From drug lord to psychic to man on the street, Eve Duncan has only to speak to them to enslave. It's all a bit much. Her child's murder will turn into a kidnapping as her "special, special, Bonnie" is shown to be some sort of super human used for nefarious purposes by those same government agents. The reason she can't find Bonnie's grave is that there isn't one. I will bet you that right now.

Perhaps I could accept this shift of narrative if it were more smoothly executed. Instead Quinn is filled with clunky conversations and long passages where motivations are told repeatedly instead of shown once. People are presented as ideas and abilities border on the superhuman. Motivations shift. Tracking down who she believes to be Bonnie's murderer, Eve's friend Catherine pauses to wonder if she will kill him or sleep with him. No, really, she does. She thinks she's on the track of an unstable child killer, she has left her own recently returned child behind, and she rolls about in Gallo's sheets 'sensing him' (even though others have been sleeping in the bed and the sheets are fresh) while wondering if they will be lovers. These have become some sick individuals.

4 comments:

  1. You're right, this book sucked. This was my first try at a Johansen novel, and it will definitely be my last. After putting up with 400 pages of endlessly tiring Dr. Phil-style brain debates between and within characters and with virtually no plot to speak of, she doesn't have the guts to close out the little plot that is there? NUTS.

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  2. As it turned out, this was my last Johansen too. I didn't read Bonnie. I understand Bonnie actually was dead, but after decades of following her story Quinn made me stop caring about it.

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  3. I love all the Eve Duncan books. Have enjoyed them immensely

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  4. Interestingly enough, I am frustrated by I can't stop myself from wanting more. I am very confused about the Quinn being married thing?? I just finished "Quinn" and now reading "Bonnie." They haven't fixed that problem as of yet. However, I'm hoping they will settle it to my satisfaction before this ride comes to an end.

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