Monday, March 30, 2020

SERIES REVIEW - Catherine Ling by Iris Johansen



This blog post is a review for the Catherine Ling series by Iris Johansen. Prior to reading this series, I read the 26 books in the Eve Duncan series, and I will write about that series in future posts. Although I had Book 5 in this series, Vendetta, for review, I enjoyed listening to all five books in audiobook format, with the first book narrated by Jennifer Van Dyck and the latter four by Elisabeth Rodgers. Both narrators did a wonderful job and I really do hope there will be more books in this series.



Title:   Chasing the Night
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Genre:   Mystery/Thriller
Format:  Audiobook
No. of Pages:   362
Date of Publication:   October 19, 2010
My Rating:   5 Stars
**Also listed as Eve Duncan #11**

DESCRIPTION:

A CIA agent's two-year-old child was stolen in the night as a brutal act of vengeance. Now, eight years later, this torment is something Catherine Ling awakens to every day. Her friends, family, and colleagues tell her to let go, move on, accept that her son is never coming back. But she can't. Catherine needs to find someone as driven and obsessed as she is to help her - and that person is Eve Duncan. She knows that Eve shares her nightmare, since closure is also something that eludes Eve after the disappearance of her daughter Bonnie. Now, Eve must take her talents as a forensic sculptor to another level, using age progression as a way to unite Catherine with her child. As Eve gets drawn deeper into Catherine's horror, she must face looming demons of her own.

Bonnie's killer is still out there. And a new killer is taunting Eve and Catherine at every turn. Is Catherine's son alive, or not? These two women endure the worst fear any mother can imagine in Iris Johansen's latest thrill ride, a gut-wrenching journey into the darkest places of the soul. 


MY THOUGHTS:

This eleventh book in the Eve Duncan series is also listed as the first book in the Catherine Ling series. We are introduced to the fearless CIA agent Catherine Ling. Catherine grew up on the streets of Hong Kong and she met a unique man named Hu Chang, an ageless genius with a gift of creating poisons. At a very young age she was recruited by the CIA and has proved to become an invaluable agent.

As this book begins, she is deep in the middle of the rain forest on a dangerous rescue mission with hopes of rescuing a father and his fourteen-year-old daughter. She swiftly takes men down and she gets finds them, the father has been killed, leaving Catherine to rescue the daughter, Kelly. Catherine expertly whisks Kelly to safety. 

Meanwhile, forensic sculptor Eve Duncan is approached by Agent Venable of the CIA to do an age progression. However, despite this book being a part of the Eve Duncan series, the focus is on Catherine and her search for her son, who was kidnapped at two years of age. It has been nine years and Catherine truly believes he is still alive. Eve can truly relate to Catherine's situation because her daughter Bonnie was kidnapped and killed when she was seven years old and Eve has been trying to locate her remains in order to come to peace with her tragic loss.

Eve turns her attention to Catherine's plight, as well as Kelly, the girl who was rescued. As it turns out, Kelly is a majorly gifted teen, who sees patterns in situations, and plays a major role in the search for Catherine's son Luke. During all the years Luke has been missing, Catherine has been plagued a man who is indeed a monster, Rakovich, who taunts her about what has happened to Luke. Eve, her long-time lover Joe, and Kelly make the trek to Russia in order to find Luke.

This exciting book (whether considered to be the eleventh book of one series or the first book  in this series) has everything - romance, action and danger. It strikes a chord for every parent's worst fear of their child being taken.

I admit to being hung up on Iris Johansen and have recently binge read the entire Eve Duncan series and now this entire Catherine Ling series and will continue this blog post with the next book.

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Title:   What Doesn't Kill You
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Genre:   Mystery/Thriller
Format:  Audiobook
No. of Pages:   413
Date of Publication:   April 17, 2012
My Rating:   4 Stars


DESCRIPTION:

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. . . .


Number-one bestselling author Iris Johansen showcases one of her most fascinating characters yet, pitted against one of the most ruthless killers, in a novel that will make you forget to breathe. . . .


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:

Readers of the Catherine Ling series were introduced to the formidable CIA Agent Catherine Ling. In the first book of the series, Catherine not only rescued a fourteen-year-old girl Kelly from a brutal Russian kidnapper, she managed to find her son Luke, who was kidnapped when he was two. Catherine, with the help of friend and forensic sculptor, Eve Duncan.

Catherine and Luke have a tentative relationship. Catherine has a deep and abiding love for Luke. Luke, however, was raised by a vicious kidnapper and was introduced to extreme violence, with emotion having been removed from his existence. So Catherine is doing her best to give Luke a chance to discover those emotions. He is safe now and, with the help of old friend Hu Chang, and his live-in tutor Sam, Luke has a chance of quite a happy future now.

However, Hu Chang is in danger, and Catherine, with the help of a man she met previously, John Gallo (who in the Eve Duncan series, is closely connected to Eve's past), to try and save Hu Chang.

This fast-paced story is full of action and tension, with a bit of romance along the way. While binge reading this series I sometimes forget that Catherine is just twenty-nine years old. Because of her tragic early years, until she was literally pulled to safety as a teen, she has a hard edge. Tutored by Hu Chang and then trained by the CIA, she is tough as nails. I love the Eve Duncan series, but I also love Catherine and truly enjoyed this second book in the series.

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Title:   Live to See Tomorrow
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Genre:   Mystery/Thriller
Format:  Audiobook
No. of Pages:   368
Date of Publication:   April 29, 2014
My Rating:   4 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

Catherine Ling: raised on the streets of Hong Kong, she has been a shadowy CIA operative since she was fourteen years old. There are only a few things in life she cares for. One is her son, kidnapped when he was two. Catherine has only recently been reunited with him and the vow of her heart is never to let him face danger again. The other is her mentor, Hu Chang. Mysterious, brilliant, and deadly, Hu Chang taught Catherine everything she knows and she is loyal to him. Now Hu Chang is calling Catherine to a new task: rescue an imprisoned journalist in Tibet -- a woman who has been subjected to unspeakable horrors. Her connection to Hu Chang is unknown. What's also unknown is that Catherine will be going up against a man whose crimes have stretched back into this area for forty years. Is Catherine being used as a pawn by Hu Chang? Can she save a woman she's never even met? And will either of them live to see tomorrow?


MY THOUGHTS

Catherine Ling has been getting reacquainted with her son Luke after rescuing him from a vicious killer. As a skilled CIA Agent, Catherine is often called away from home. When she finds out that her friend Erin is in danger, Catherine rises to the occasion.

She travels to Tibet and successfully rescues Erin, a freelance reporter. But that is just the beginning of the dangerous ride that faces both women. Erin holds information and ruthless killers will do anything to get their hands on her.


Someone that had tangled with Catherine, as he helped her in other dangerous situations, is now on the scene to help yer yet again.  More than that, her son Luke and her mentor, the brilliant Hu Chang also arrive on the scene in order to keep Erin and Catherine safe. 


This book was a thrilling ride, with action at every turn, and as always in this series, some romance. I am definitely hooked and quickly moved on to the fifth book in the series.

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Title:   Your Next Breath
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Genre:   Mystery/Thriller
Format:  Audiobook
No. of Pages:   352
Date of Publication:   April 28, 2015
My Rating:   5 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes an explosive new thriller

Catherine Ling is one of the CIA’s most prized operatives. Raised on the streets of Hong Kong, she was pulled into the agency at the age of fourteen. If life has taught her anything, it is not to get attached, but there are two exceptions to that rule: her son Luke and her mentor Hu Chang. Luke was kidnapped at age two, and now, nine years later, he has astonishingly been returned to her. Catherine vows never to fail him again. Now, just as she is building a relationship with Luke, it seems that someone from Catherine’s past is playing a deadly game with her, and using those she cares about as pawns. Three are dead already: the former prostitute who helped Catherine when she was out on the street, a CIA agent with whom she worked closely, and the informant who helped her free Luke. Someone is picking off the people Catherine cares about one by one, with the circle narrowing closer and closer to those she loves the most. Catherine has made many enemies throughout her life, and she has no choice but to weed through her past to find out who is targeting her now, and then go after the vicious killer herself. 


MY THOUGHTS:

CIA Agent Catherine Ling is happy that her son Luke is getting better adjusted after she rescued him from a brutal kidnapper. Luke had been lost to Catherine for nine long years. Keeping him safe is her highest priority. However, when she finds out that one of her friends was murdered, a plot is soon revealed that anyone close to her is now in danger.

Catherine scrambles to protect those she loves, but her reach only goes so far. Everyone that has touched Catherine's life in one way or another is now in danger. This exciting book in the Catherine Ling series has crossover characters from the Eve Duncan series as Eve, lover Joe and adopted daughter Jane are very likely in the line of fire. The enigmatic Cameron appears again in this book. He met Catherine previously and had helped her on more than one occasion.

Just as the previous three books in this series, the action is nonstop. There is also a high level of emotion with the tragedy that befalls some in this book. I am totally addicted to this series and to Iris Johansen. 

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Title:   Vendetta
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Genre:   Mystery/Thriller
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   560
Date of Publication:   June 25, 2019
My Rating:   5 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen comes a new explosive, compelling thriller.

With his dying breath, Carl Venable, head of the CIA task force on terrorism and Jude Brandon’s final link to terrorist ringleader Max Huber, gives Brandon a mandate: to keep his daughter, Rachel, safe at any cost. But Rachel Venable has a shocking, twisted past of her own, one that comes rushing back after her medical clinic in Guyana is attacked by Huber—the same man who murdered her father and kept her imprisoned for months. Brandon and Catherine Ling, Rachel’s longtime ally and fierce protector, are determined to keep Rachel out of danger, but she knows that it’s impossible to stay hidden when Max Huber wants you dead.


As Rachel and Brandon race against the clock to bring Huber down before he can orchestrate a nuclear explosion that will lay waste to the west coast, they also fight a growing attraction to each other – an attraction that could prove just as dangerous as Huber himself. In this gripping, fast-paced novel full of dark secrets and tangled lies, one thing is clear: everyone has a vendetta, no one will rest until they get their revenge. 

MY THOUGHTS:

Tragically, Carl Venable, who has been pivotal in CIA Agent Catherine Ling's life has been mortally wounded and when Jude Brandon finds him, Venable asks him to find and protect his daughter Rachel. Will Brandon be able to locate Rachel and keep her free from danger? Brandon does find Rachel, but she is unwilling to follow him to safety until she completes something that is very important to her.


Meanwhile, the clinic she runs in Guyana is attacked by a man named Huber and he will do anything to get his hands on Rachel.  Brandon and Rachel race to get one step ahead of Huber, and this includes pulling Catherine Ling in to assist. Catherine is a superb agent but Huber is pulling out all the stops to create a dangerous situation every step of the way.


Rachel had a difficult past and was estranged from her father. However, she excelled in a unique way as she became under the protection of the enigmatic Hu Chang when she was a teenager, much like Catherine Ling. Rachel went on to become a doctor and uses both skills in order to succeed. 


I loved this book by Iris Johansen. Before reading this book and series, I binge read the Eve Duncan series. This series is just as compelling. This story moves at a rapid pace and is truly thrilling. I also love how there is always a bit of romance in these connected series. I really enjoy Catherine and her son Luke and hope to see more of them in the future. 


Many thanks to St. Martin's Press and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

IRIS JOHANSEN is The New York Times bestselling author of Your Next Breath, The Perfect Witness, Live to See Tomorrow, Silencing Eve, Hunting Eve, Taking Eve, Sleep No More, What Doesn't Kill You, Bonnie, Quinn, Eve,Chasing The Night, Eight Days to Live, Blood Game, Deadlock, Dark Summer, Pandora's Daughter, Quicksand,Killer Dreams, On The Run, Countdown, Firestorm, Fatal Tide, Dead Aim, and more. And with her son Roy Johansen, she has coauthored The Naked Eye, Sight Unseen, Close Your Eyes, Shadow Zone, Storm Cycle, and Silent Thunder.

Johansen began writing after her children left home for college. She first achieved success in the early 1980s writing category romances. In 1991, Johansen began writing suspense historical romance novels, starting with the publication of The Wind Dancer. In 1996 Johansen switched genres, turning to crime fiction, with which she has had great success. She had seventeen consecutive New York Times bestsellers as of November 2006.


Johansen lives near Atlanta, Georgia and is married. Her son, Roy Johansen, is an Edgar Award-winning screenwriter and novelist. Her daughter, Tamara, serves as her research assistant.


6 comments:

  1. This is THE way to read a series - excellent post!

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  2. Love the review of the series.

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  3. Great post! I like the covers of the Catherine Ling series.

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  4. Amazing reviews Robin, this book series looks and sounds like an fantastic book series. I am really glad you fully enjoyed reading this whole series. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome post.

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  5. I've never heard of any of them but they all look so good. Great reviews.

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  6. I love a female lead especially in the thrillers. Great post!

    Gayathri @ Elgee Writes

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