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Look Behind You


Look Behind You

The mother-son writing team of Iris and Roy Johansen has written their fifth thriller starring Dr. Kendra Michaels, a formerly blind music therapist who now collaborates with the FBI when a situation unfolds that can use her skills of sensory detail study.

LOOK BEHIND YOU draws Kendra into the hunt for a serial killer in the San Diego area who leaves behind bizarre clues. Reluctant at first, she takes on the case after three murders within eight days have been committed in her immediate area. She is recruited by FBI special agent Roland Metcalf, along with an agent new to his office, Gina Carson, who shows obvious disdain for Kendra’s skills but warms up to her when confronted with personal knowledge, observed at their first meeting. Gina remains aloof to these observations but agrees to work with Kendra.

The most obvious dilemma faced by the agents is sorting out meaning from random clues left by the killer. Three murders in a week, all of which left victims in openly public places, point to a tight methodology to his acts. Later in the investigation, the random clues appear to be souvenirs from previous killings in other parts of the country. The team deduces that the perpetrator in all of these unsolved crimes may be one and the same person. A deep examination of the faces of these corpses allows Kendra to discover a link among the three murders. The same peach-colored lipstick has been applied to the lips of all three postmortem, which complicates matters, but at least is a beginning.

"LOOK BEHIND YOU keeps the reader thoroughly engrossed, anxious to see the killer brought to justice. But will those close to Kendra be in the body count?"

A fourth murder, that of a young man whose bloody body is found in a closet by his girlfriend, stuns the team. In block letters, scrawled on the wall, is a message that reads LOOK BEHIND YOU. Turning around, the girlfriend discovers the body. In addition, photographs of her from the evening before are strewn across the apartment. She suspects that the killer most likely had taken those pictures while hiding in the closet with the dead body.

Kendra recalls an incident while working in New England with detectives on a different murder case. They showed her photographs of another unsolved crime in the area, hoping to spot a similarity. They found none, but Kendra remembers seeing the same message scrawled on the wall of that crime scene. A cold case from Ventura County involving a young man, a swimmer, revealed that his swim goggles now appear at the San Diego man’s death scene. What other links might there be, and how many can connect these hideous acts to one solitary murderer?

One night, Kendra awakens abruptly with a realization that the now 26 possible cases have a common thread. Knots tied with restraining ropes on the victims had left skin impressions, those of a clove hitch knot. She contacts a good friend, Jessie Mercado in Santa Monica, to help her ferret out times, places and Navy personnel who may have been in locations of the murders. Jessie takes on the job but suggests that results may take time. Before she contacts Jessie, Kendra has been told to call on Adam Lynch, a friend, wannabe lover and agent extraordinaire, for help. She goes to Jessie instead, perhaps all too aware of her own jumbled sexual feelings for the man she both loves and fears.

For now, with the number of murders growing, Kendra relies on the FBI team for support. Her blind friend, Olivia, comforts her as well and is a stable influence. However, Kendra picks up her phone and hears a frantic Olivia nearly screaming for help. When Olivia returned to her apartment, she noticed papers and a computer out of place. A Word program file was open, and she read it: “Hello, Sweet, Capable Olivia…. Please pass this along to your friend Kendra. My name is Zachary and I’m under the distinct impression that she would very much like to meet me…” Kendra’s world becomes a nightmare when she and her loved ones are threatened. Adam arrives from a job in China and will not leave her. He is her protector and makes his presence known to all concerned. Meanwhile, Jessie works the “knot” angle while the FBI team sorts through evidence from the multiple cases.

Numerous scenes reveal Zachary as he watches, waits and observes Kendra’s movements. He targets her like a game of hide-and-seek, clever beyond imagination in his pursuit. LOOK BEHIND YOU keeps the reader thoroughly engrossed, anxious to see the killer brought to justice. But will those close to Kendra be in the body count?

Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on August 11, 2017

Look Behind You
by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen

  • Publication Date: July 18, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • ISBN-10: 125007598X
  • ISBN-13: 9781250075987