REVIEW by Dolly: What Doesn’t Kill You by Iris Johansen (@fidget78 , @iris_johansen)

Catherine Ling was abandoned on the streets of Hong Kong at age four.  Schooled in the art of survival, she traded in the only commodity she had: information.  As a teenager, she came under the tutelage of a mysterious man known only as Hu Chang—a skilled assassin and master poisoner.  As a young woman, she was recruited by the CIA and now, she is known as one of their most effective operatives.  Having lived life in the shadows, Catherine is aware of the wobbly moral compass of her existence and even more aware of just how expendable she is to those she deals with. When her old friend Hu Chang creates something so deadly, and completely untraceable, the chase is on to be the first to get it.  With rogue operative John Gallo also on the hunt, Catherine finds herself pitted against a group so villainous and a man so evil that she may not survive the quest to protect those she cares about.  Iris Johansen is at her page-turning best in this novel that takes you from the corridors of Langley to the alleyways of Hong Kong, and the darkest places of the human soul.
A good addition to my collection!
It seems as if I’ve been reading Iris Johansen novels all my life.  Some of my earliest reading was the Harlequin Series.  I read most of those for a very long time as they were quick, action, romance reads that fit my lifestyle of the time.  Several of Ms Johansen’s books captured my imagination.  However, the first novel that made me a life long fan was The Wind Dancer and it’s two follow up novels. 
Catherine Ling is a character introduced in an earlier novel, Chasing The Night.  I must admit upfront, I have NOT read all the Even Duncan books.  Not due to anything except I was getting tired of Eve obsessing about Bonnie.  I wanted more for Joe and Jane with Eve.  That’s just the way I felt.  I do own all the books and know I will read them eventually.  I missed the earlier story of Catherine trying to find her son with Eve’s help. It did not distract from this novel as far as I can tell.  I would have had a little more background information on the Catherine Ling/Joe Gallo relationship but I didn’t feel lost.
Ms Johansen’s books are very unique and ARE NOT easy reads.  You have to think about what is happening and can’t skip pages as you might miss something you need to know later on.  Her novels are action based but not always action packed.  The character development in any of her novels is fantastic.  She seems to always be able to add some twists and turns that completely baffle you for a while and then the light bulb comes on. 
The stars of What Doesn’t Kill You are more than intriguing.  Catherine’s relationship with her son, Luke and the enigmatic relationship with Hu Chang.  I really expect more novels starring all three.  Can’t wait.  I want to see what happens with Catherine and Hu Chang.  There’s a lot up in the air when the novel ends.
This is not my favorite novel by Ms Johansen but it is a welcome addition to my collection.  The characters were outstanding, per usual, but to me, What Doesn’t Kill You fell a bit short in the intrigue area.  I didn’t feel outraged by “the bad guy”.  He didn’t do anything that gave me a true hate for his part in the novel.  Usually Ms Johansen’s protagonist are as big as life. 
If you are a true Iris Johansen fan, you’ll be glad to add this novel.  However, if you’ve never read any of her earlier books, you might not enjoy this one as much.  To give it a chance, start at the beginning of her Eve Duncan Series and go from there.
My rating:  4 Stars 
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  1. Karen Correll says:

    Thank you for the review..I do have all her Eve Duncan books but haven’t read them all yet..I have this book but it’s on my TBR pile which is very large right now..This is the first review I’ve read and now more anxious to get started reading it!!

  2. Thanks, Karen. It’s a pretty good book. Keep my attention anyway. I love her characters.

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