Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Review: What Doesn't Kill You by Iris Johansen

First line: "Where the hell are they?"

From the inside cover: It's the deadliest poison known to man. He's the only one who knows its true power. She's the only one who can stop the evil. The chase is on...

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 a formula that's not only deadly but completely untraceable, the race begins to be the first to get it. With rogue operative John Gallo also on the hunt, Catherine finds herself up against a group so villainous and a man so evil that she may not survive in her quest to protect those she cares about: Hu Chang and Luke - the son who was stolen from Catherine and only recently brought home safe. Using all of her formidable skills, Catherine Ling proves the age-old belief that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

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.

My thoughts: I have been reading Iris Johansen's books for a while now, ever since picking up a copy of The Killing Game at a friend's house. Since then, I became hooked on the Eve Duncan series and have read the entire series. When the character of Catherine Ling was introduced in Chasing the Night, I immediately loved her. I was so happy to see that she appeared in the Eve Duncan trilogy and then when I heard she was getting her own book, I was ecstatic.

In What Doesn't Kill You we go along with Catherine on a mission to help prevent a poisonous formula from wreaking havoc on the world. Having just got her son back, she is not anxious to go on this mission, but since it involves her old mentor and friend, Hu Chang, she knows she has no choice. Along the way, John Gallo appears and those sparks that started flying in the Eve Duncan trilogy start right up again.

What I liked about this story is that we get glimpses into Catherine's past to see what has made her the woman she is. There are flashbacks to Catherine's youth and see how she came to know and become a student of Hu Chang's. Knowing this helps understand why she is willing to go to the ends of the earth to help him.

I really enjoyed this story. It's a quick read, full of suspense, twists and turns, and sexual tension between two very strong characters. I hope this is not the last time we see Catherine.

Have you read any of Iris Johansen's books? Do you have a favorite minor character that you hope an author gives their own story to?

(I borrowed this book from the library.)



  1. I haven't read any of Iris Johansen's books (yet). This one does sound really good. I'm glad you are enjoying these books so much.

    1. I highly recommend her if you like psychological thrillers. The Eve Duncan books are great.

    2. i am 19. i started reading her books years ago. i own like 19 of them. i cannot wait to read this one. all the characters in her books are BA!

    3. I've read most of her other books, too. I think Catherine Ling might be my favorite character besides Eve Duncan.

  2. I am a huge fan of Iris's books and just brought this one home on audio.

    1. I love listening to Iris Johansen's books on audio - is Jennifer Van Dyke the narrator? She's really good.


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