The President's daughter...
The women determined to save her...
The man with the power to betray a nation...
Melissa Riley arrives at her sister's isolated Virginia country home to find herself plunged into a deadly drama. There the renowned Dr. Jessica Riley is attempting to draw the daughter of the President of the United States out of a severe catatonic trauma. The last thing young Cassie Andreas saw was an organized team ruthlessly murder her nanny and the Secret Service agents sworn to protect her. But to free Cassie, Melissa and Jessica must trust a mysterious, charismatic man.
Michael Travis made his fortune in the international underworld. He risked everything to save Cassie during that terrible night of bloodshed. And he has entered into a secret bargain with the President. But is his show of concern all a treacherous charade? Melissa and Jessica have no choice but to accept Travis as their ally--and to follow a dangerous plan that will lead them into the world of a killer who'll destroy anyone standing between him and the...Final Target.
At the center of Johansen's latest suspense thriller (after The Search) is the Wind Dancer, a priceless gold statue of the winged horse Pegasus. The statue has been in the Andreas family since the fall of Troy and now, centuries later, U.S. President Jonathan Andreas is in Paris to lend the family heirloom to a museum. On the night of the ceremony, his daughter, seven-year-old Cassie, is awakened at the family's farmhouse in the south of France by masked men who murder her nanny and her nurse, intent on kidnapping Cassie and ransoming her in exchange for the Wind Dancer. Cassie is saved in the nick of time by the arrival of Michael Travis, international underworld information dealer, but eight months later, the child is being treated in the Virginia home of psychiatrist Dr. Jessica Riley and Jessica's psychically extrasensitive sister, Melissa, for severe catatonic trauma. She hasn't spoken a word since the raid and has retreated into an imaginary tunnel where the Wind Dancer rescues her from pursuing monsters. Michael Travis then reappears and lures Cassie and the Riley sisters into a web of intrigue, taking them to Amsterdam, Paris and eventually back to the scene of the crime. There's a lot going on here, what with the telepathic dream sequences, a demented art fanatic determined to steal the statue, a subplot involving the Russian diamond cartel and the romantic tension between Melissa and Travis. Johansen's fans will enjoy the swirling plot lines, staccato dialogue and abrupt scene shifts that mark her style. National advertising. (May 29)Forecast: Fans may recognize the Wind Dancer, the subject (and title) of one of Johansen's mass market romances. The author's dependable mix of suspense and romance will make for good beach reading, but some may prefer to wait for the paperback.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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February 25, 2002
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Excerpt from Final Target by Iris Johansen
"I'm sorry to have to throw this at you during finals, Melissa." Karen Novak's voice was hesitant. "If there was any other way . . ."
"You want me to move out." It was no surprise. Melissa had known the decision was coming.
"Just until you have this problem under control. We've scouted out an efficiency for you about a block from here. You can move in right away."
Melissa turned to her other roommate. "Wendy?"
Wendy Sendle nodded miserably. "We think you'd be better off in an apartment by yourself."
"And you certainly would be better off without me." She held up a hand as Wendy opened her mouth to protest and said gently, "It's okay. I understand. I'm not blaming you. I'll pack up and be out by tonight."
"You don't have to be in a hurry. Tomorrow would be--" Wendy broke off as Karen gave her a pointed glance. "We'll be glad to help you pack."
Melissa had known they wouldn't want to risk another night with her. "Thank you." She tried to smile. "Now, stop looking so guilty. We've been friends for years. This isn't going to change anything."
"I hope not," Karen said. "You know we love you. We took it as long as we could, Melissa."
"I know. You've been very tolerant." She should have moved out weeks ago, but she'd felt safe here. "I'll just go into the bathroom and pack my toiletries."
"Melissa, have you ever thought of going back to Juniper?" Wendy moistened her lips. "Maybe your sister can help you."
"I'll think about it. Right now Jessica's pretty busy with a new job."
"You're very close. If she knew, I think she'd put her project on hold."
"It's hard to put off. Don't worry, I'll be fine." She closed the bathroom door behind her and leaned against it, her heart pounding. Calm down. So she'd be alone tonight. Maybe it wouldn't happen. Maybe it would go away.
But it hadn't gone away in the last few weeks. It had started hazy and far away, barely discernible in the swirling darkness. But lately it kept coming closer. She knew she'd be able to see it clearly soon.
Oh, God, don't let her see it.
"Cassie's had another nightmare," Teresa Delgado said as she stood in the doorway of Jessica's bedroom. "A bad one."
"They're all bad." Jessica Riley rubbed her eyes before she sat up and reached for her robe. "You didn't leave her alone?"
"There are other people around here who know their jobs besides you. Rachel's with her." She made a face. "But Cassie might as well be alone. She's curled up in a ball with her face to the wall. I tried to comfort her, but, as usual, Cassie's acting as if she can't hear me. As deaf as a fence post."
"She's not deaf." Jessica passed her and started down the hall. "She's aware of everything around her. She's just rejecting it all. The only time she's vulnerable and lets anything in is when she's sleeping."
"Then maybe you should treat her when she's sleeping. Try hypnotism or something," Teresa said. "You're sure not doing very well when she's awake."
"Give me a break. I've had her for only a month. We're just beginning to know each other," Jessica said. But Teresa was right, there had been no obvious progress. The child had been caught in a prison of silence since the incident at Vasaro eight months before. Surely there should have been some breakthrough by now, she thought, then tried to dismiss her doubts. She was just tired. Jesus, a child lost in a catatonic state for eight months was nothing compared to other children she'd treated. But acceptance was difficult when her patient was a seven-year-old child who should be running and playing and living life to the fullest. "And it's better if she makes the first steps back herself. I don't want to force her."
"You're the doctor," Teresa said. "But if a lowly nurse can offer some advice, I'd--"
"Lowly?" Jessica smiled. "Where did that come from? You've been telling me what I should do since my first year of residency."
"You needed it. I'd been around for over thirty years by then and I had to set you straight. You were one of those hotshot doctors who never knew when to stop. You still don't. You could let us deal with the kid for one night and get eight hours' sleep."
"She's got to know I'm here for her." She shrugged. "And I wouldn't have been able to sleep much longer anyway. Her father's coming to see her. He said he'd be here by three a.m."
Teresa gave a low whistle. "The great man is paying us a visit?"
"No, Cassie's father is coming to see his daughter." Many people considered Jonathan Andreas one of the most popular presidents the United States had ever had, but Jessica didn't think of him in those terms. From the first time she had met him a month ago, she saw him only as a father who was terribly worried about his child. "And you should know that. You've seen him with her. He's just a man with a giant problem."
"So you put your life on hold and let him use your family home for a treatment center for his daughter. The damn place is an armed camp. You can't even take a walk without being shadowed by some Secret Service man."