Bonnie is a book long anticipated by Iris Johansen readers. The beautiful daughter of longtime character, Eve Duncan, Bonnie was abducted at age seven and hasn’t been seen since except in her mother’s dreams. (Or is her ghostly presence real?) Trying to go on with her life after facing a parent’s worst nightmare is difficult for Eve. However, she pulls on her inner resources, finishes her schooling, and becomes a forensic sculptor in order to help other families locate their missing relatives.
Johansen has said in various interviews that one of the questions she is always asked is, “When we will know what happened to Bonnie?” She always told readers she didn’t know. A writer dedicated to letting her characters evolve on their own timeline, Johansen wrote seven books featuring Eve Duncan and other recurring characters before deciding it was time to answer that question.
Bonnie is the third book of a trilogy that delves into all the mysteries in Eve Duncan’s life. The first book, Eve, provided an in-depth look at this resilient and remarkable woman. The second, Quinn, focused on Joe Quinn, who came into Eve’s life to help her search for Bonnie. The two fell in love and Bonnie’s story can’t be finished until readers know all about Joe. The last book is Bonnie:
“Let’s go over it one more time,” Detective Slindak said. “You didn’t see anyone approach your daughter?”
“I told you.” Eve’s voice was shaking. “There was a crowd. She went to the refreshment stand to get an ice cream. One minute he was there, the next she wasn’t.” She stared blindly at the three police cars parked next to the curb, the people standing around in groups, whispering and gazing at her. “She’s been gone for three hours. Why are you asking me questions? Find her.”
“We’re trying. Does your daughter often wander away from you?”
No, never.” She stared at her mother sitting on the park bench with another police officer. Tears were running down Sandra’s cheeks, and she was leaning against him.“We were at the swings. My mother gave her money for an ice cream, and she ran to buy it. We could see the refreshment stand, so we thought it would be okay. She said she’d be right back. She wouldn’t have just wandered away.” But if she didn’t, then the other explanation as where the nightmares began. “I talked to the man at the refreshment stand. He remembered her.” Everyone always remembered Bonnie. Her smile, the way she lit up everything around her. “He sold her the ice cream, then she ran off into thecrowd.”
“That’s what he told us, too.”
“Someone else must have seen her.” The panic was rising.
“Talk to everyone. Find her.”
“We’re trying,” he said gently. “We’re questioning everyone. I’ve sent men to search the entire park.”
“They won’t find her here. Do you think I didn’t do that?” she asked fiercely. “I ran all over the park, calling her name. She didn’t answer.” The tears were beginning to fall. “I called and called. She didn’t answer. Bonnie would answer me. She would answer—”
“We’ll try again,” the detective said. “We’re exploring every possibility.”
These books are thrilling, chilling, and suspenseful. I couldn’t read Bonnie fast enough because I had to know what happened. And Johansen doesn’t make it easy. You’re riding along with four people intent on finding a murderer and at various times it’s difficult to decide just who the villain is and what’s going to happen next. All of this helped along with scenes from Bonnie, who’s trying to help from beyond the grave, but still is not privy to all she needs to know.
“It is changing. I don’t believe I was meant to know everything before. It’s as if I’ve been moving back and forth on two levels, and neither of them is clear. One has to be with you here and the other one is somewhere else with . . .” [Bonnie] shook her head. “It’s gone. Once I leave one level, it’s forgotten, yet something lingers, and I know I’ll be going back. I’ve been wondering if the reason there’s no recollection is that it’s a kind of trade- off for letting me come to you. That I’m not allowed to have everything. But lately I’ve been getting glimpses, memories, and I think maybe the two levels are coming together.”
That’s confusing as hell.”
Bonnie smiled. “I’m sorry, Mama. It’s confusing for me, too. I just have to trust that it’s how it should be. Everything else seems to have a wonderful order.”
This book reads well as a standalone, but I think you’ll enjoy it more if you read Eve and Quinn first. You’ll have everything you need to see this story reach its climactic and gut-wrenching ending.
Leigh Neely is a former newspaper and magazine editor. She currently does freelance work and recently had a short story published in the anthology, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices.