Long After Midnight by Iris Johansen
Bantam, $22.95, PG, ISBN 0-553-09715-63
*****
Try to remember the last time you were captivated on page one of a book and were still captivated on the last page. That's just what happened to me as I read Long After Midnight. It's a really satisfying feeling.

I have read many of Iris Johansen's category romances and have always enjoyed them. How many of us have felt that Sedikhan and Said Ababa were almost actual places? And that Jon, Gunnar, Andrew, Billie, David and the other memorable characters she's created were so lifelike that they seemed to be people we'd like to know?

Well, she's done it again and more in her latest book. However, if you're looking for a typical love story, this is not it. Ms. Johansen has crafted a well-written suspense book with the love interest as a secondary thread. But what a suspense book it is. Wow! The only way that I can illustrate its strength is to compare it to Dean R. Koontz's book, Watchers. Remember the intensity as the Outsider stalked Einstein? It's recreated here and is just as effective and powerful.

There's very little that I can tell you about this book without giving away too much of the plot line. I can tell you that it's riveting. I can tell you that it is so intense that several times I had to put it down and walk away. I can tell you that it is surprising and has plot twists and turns that I never anticipated.

Here's what I can tell you. Dr. Kate Denby, a genetic researcher, has resisted many offers from a brilliant research scientist to work for him and assist him in developing a new drug which will alleviate most known diseases by strengthening the body's immune system. She doesn't want to relocate and uproot her son and take him to another state. She also doesn't want to stop her own research.

What she doesn't take into account are outside factors which will force her to reconsider her decision. These outside factors include hired assassins, drug companies which will stop at nothing to prevent the development of this new drug, corrupt politicians who will try to make her genetic research appear to be sinister, killings which will make her look like the murderer, having to flee to protect her own and her son's life and much, much more. And don't forget the love story.

These characters feel like real, three-dimensional, intelligent, mature people. The story was believable, spellbinding and, yet, in no way seemed incredulous or contrived. It was fast-paced, mesmerizing, and I was sorry to see it end. Books this enjoyable come along much too rarely.

--Linda Mowery


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