Fresh Meat: Close Your Eyes by Iris and Roy Johansen

Close Your Eyes by Iris and Roy Johansen

Close Your Eyes by Iris and Roy Johansen is the fourth Kendra Michaels detective thriller (available July 17, 2012).

When former agent Adam Lynch approaches Kendra Michaels about a possible serial murder case, she is determined to steer clear. She has a great deal to offer—the skills she perfected during those sightless years, such as the ability to pick up the most subtle audio, olfactory, and tactile cues in the world around her,  have made her a uniquely potent observer and problem solver—but she wants no part of Lynch, who is a notorious manipulator. Unfortunately, this time he holds a trump card: the latest possible victim of the serial killer he’s after is Kendra’s ex-lover, an FBI agent who vanished without enough clues to follow—unless Kendra can pick up the trail.

Though I’ve read a number of Iris Johansen’s novels, both romance and suspense/thrillers,this is the first time I’ve read one of her collaborations with her son Roy. Close Your Eyes is the fourth in their Kendra Michaels series of thrillers, which in my opinion has some distinct homages to the Sherlock Holmes stories.

Kendra grew up blind, having suffered degenerative corneal disease in the womb, but then gained her sight at age twenty, for the first time, through a groundbreaking stem cell treatment. As a result she trained herself to be an extraordinary observer with her eyes as well as her other senses, and seems to have a knack for putting together clues as well (her talent does not seem entirely due to the “blind people have extra senses” trope so common in fiction). All of Kendra’s other skills go together with a PhD in Psychology to result in an extremely talented detective.

Kendra originally took on work for the FBI as a game, but when the game grew too serious, and dangerous, she began to feel used by her FBI contact, who was also her lover. She left that world entirely and returned to be being a music therapist, but of course is drawn back into the middle of a serial killer case shortly after Close Your Eyes opens.

Kendra’s deductive skills are presented dramatically in an early scene, and I was reminded both of classic Sherlock Holmes and of the recent Holmes series on the BBC.

“Why don’t you tell me who I am?”

She gazed warily at him. She had been acquiring information about him since he walked into the room, but she realized it was being submerged by the sheer impact of his personality. There weren’t many people who possessed that instant magnetism, and she had an idea that he used it with the deftness and skill of long practice . . . . She checked the screen of her cell phone. “I have another appointment coming. Sorry, I don’t have time for games. You should go now.”

“This is no game. Humor me, Dr. Michaels.”

“Who are you? Let’s see. I know you have a background in law enforcement, probably the FBI.” She walked around the studio, straightening it for her next client. “But I’m fairly certain you don’t work for them now, though you are consulting for them in some capacity. As a matter of fact, you were at the downtown FBI branch office earlier today. And I agree with you that the third-floor conference room is quite stuffy and warm.”

. . . “When you were with the Bureau, you carried two guns, one in your left shoulder holster and the other on your right ankle. Now you’re only carrying one, in the shoulder holster. I guess getting shot wasn’t quite enough to put you off guns entirely, was it?”

. . . “I’m sure everyone told you to spend more time recuperating, but you couldn’t stand to sit still, could you? That wheelchair drove you crazy, almost as much as the crutches did.”

“Anybody would feel that way.”

“You more than most. Is that why your wife left you?”

He raised his left hand, where a slight indention still appeared on his ring finger. “That’s an easy one.”

“It’s all easy.”

I think Sherlock Holmes fans would be rewarded by giving this book a try, for the fun of comparing and contrasting the two detectives. If you haven’t tried the Kendra Michaels series before, enough background information is provided in Close Your Eyes that you won’t feel too much at sea. And speaking of the sea, this fast-moving story would make a great beach read.

Victoria Janssen is the author of three novels and numerous short stories. Her World War I-set Spice Brief is titled “Under Her Uniform” and is a tie-in to her novel The Moonlight Mistress.  Follow her on Twitter:  @victoriajanssen or find out more at

Read all posts by Victoria Janssen for Criminal Element.

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