Iris and Roy Johansen’s More Than Meets the Eye

GUEST_8acaa71e-4ede-4d6b-a064-c78cd770de5aIris and Roy Johansen’s More Than Meets the Eye is the latest in the Kendra Michaels series. Like many long-running series, this volume picks up with the familiar characters each in the positions they were the last time. Fortunately the Johansen writing team is very good at reintroducing facts like Kendra’s past blindness or her romantic connection with Lynch in order to catch up those who are less familiar with this story.


A serial killer is behind bars, but agrees to show the authorities where to find the body of one of his victims in exchange for avoiding the death penalty. When he and a number of laws enforcement officials arrive at the location, a bomb goes off killing almost everyone present. Among those is the recurring character from this series by the name of Roland Metcalf, a special agent with the FBI. It’s a very good opening, for the most part gripping and easy to understand. However, the fact that the book in a long-running series opens on a new woman investigating things, Cynthia Strode, will make some readers immediately assume she’s not long for this world. 


The story continues, with long time series lead Kendra Michaels showing off skills at observation in an effort to get a nurse to tell her more about what’s going on with the survivors, followed by a quick and building realization that this wasn’t a very old booby trap by the serial killer. While this would be obvious to our reader picking up the book since it happens so early, the in-universe logic used to come to each conclusion is entirely believable and understandable.


Quite early in the book A major piece of this mystery is presented to the reader without the characters already present getting to see. This helps to move the book more into Thriller territory rather than mystery, although the style of writing and plotting is likely to please either group. For the most part there is little controversial in the way of morality or storytelling decisions compared to the rest of the series, and fairly little that steps out of line with it.


The exception to this comes from the relationship that the lead characters have with law enforcement. Indeed the role of depiction of the police and law enforcement as a whole is complicated in this volume. While Kendra Michaels is usually depicted as in a begrudging positive relationship with the FBI, here are the fact that they don’t like her is continually made clear. What’s more a mole inside the organization is helping the killer, and other law enforcement are only an impediment. From focusing on false leads to threatening and attacking a major character rather than chase the perp, thet contnually add setbacks. Even whem course correcting and admitting they have the wrong suspect, it feels self serving. The implication is, rightly, that the police only quick to but evidence of a frameup because of the status of the man as one of their own. 


Overall this is a solid read, and a nice entry in a long-running series with light but definite continuity. Those who haven’t read any preceding books featuring the lead characters will quickly acclimate and understand the basics of the situation, and those familiar won’t find anything overtly out of place. For interested parties it will make a good quick read, well worth picking up.


(Grand Central Press 2023)

Warner Holme

Warner Holme is a longtime booklover who tends to read anything he can. He has held many positions, ranging from the educational to medical all the way to the mildly usurous. Largely forgotten by those around him, Warner has lived in a number of locations, yet keeps being pulled back to the south. He currently lives there with his pets, and politely asks not to be disturbed.

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