Review: Mind Game by Iris Johansen

Mind Game by Iris Johansen is the 22nd book in the Eve Duncan series and a propulsive thriller that’s impossible to put down (available October 24, 2017).

Take a visual tour of Mind Game with GIFnotes!

Mind Game is the 22nd book in Iris Johansen’s Eve Duncan series, but the immersion into a complex, daunting plot is instantaneous. Eve Duncan knows, intuitively, that Jane MacGuire is troubled, and she insists that they talk about it. One definition of mind game is “a series of deliberate actions or responses planned for psychological effect on another, typically for amusement or competitive advantage,” but Eve’s mind game is rooted in compassion and problem-solving. 

It wouldn’t do any good to try to lie to her, Jane knew. From the time Eve Duncan and Joe Quinn had adopted her off the streets when she was ten years old, she and Eve had been so close that anything but total honesty was out of the question. Eve was one of the foremost forensic sculptors in the world, but she was also Jane’s best friend. They had been through tragedy and joy together, and now that Eve had given birth to a son, Michael, Jane had been privileged to share that with Eve and Joe, too. “Nothing that I can’t handle.” She made a face. “Maybe I’m a little sad to be going back to Scotland and leaving you and Joe and the baby.”

That explanation doesn’t fly. Jane is trying to make a career for herself; she doesn’t want to “bother” Eve with something nebulous, something that makes her feel helpless. But Eve is relentless:

“First, you’re not a budding artist; you’re totally brilliant,” Eve said firmly. “Second, you know there’s no such thing as bother when it’s family. Talk to me. Or we’ll be out here all night.”

She meant it, Jane knew. Family was everything to all of them. She drew a deep breath. “Dreams. I’ve had dreams for the past six nights.”

Jane is dreaming about a young woman who is in trouble. Each night, the dreams get more intense and troubling. Also, she confides to Eve, “she thinks she might know her.” Johansen deftly outlines how police procedure, intense internet research, and respecting the messages from the unconscious brain lead to breakthroughs. Each morning, when Jane wakes up, she sketches her dream vision.

Yes, she still had doubts that this dream was anything but pure imagination, but Eve was right: She had to explore before she could take a chance on dismissing those dreams. So research, but don’t become obsessed. Look upon it as an interesting exercise.

A name. Eve had wanted her to give the woman a name.

Why not?

She opened the sketchbook and looked down at the first sketch. In this one, the woman looked younger than she did in the ones in the later sketches. Maybe only eighteen or nineteen. Still intense, still burning and bold, but somehow more youthful.

A name …


The dreams get worse. Lisa looks battered; there are “abrasions on her wrists.” When Jane gets back to Scotland, “Seth Caleb comes back into Jane’s life. This time he’s the one in trouble.” Seth’s persuasive, psychological powers are off the charts, but Jane is the key to unlocking the situation he finds himself in. Without giving away any spoilers, the scene where Lisa insists that Jane pay “special attention” to her cliff dwelling—the place where she’s being held—is mesmerizing. By this stage, Lisa is replying telepathically to Jane. Lisa can play the mind game on a deep level and each day is more adept. Jane attempts to extract the information she desperately needs.

If you want my help, I need answers. Do you have any idea where you are? You seemed uncertain before.

I don’t know. I had a blindfold when they brought me here. You saw the mountains and then the cliff on this side of the house. When I was trying to get down the cliff, I saw that island in the distance.

Did you notice anything else? Something that struck you as different about the place?

No. Silence. Except it felt … kind of golden.

What? Golden? Jane goes out to sit by the lake. She needs “to relax and just absorb all the information she’d gathered about helicopters and the Mediterranean and the Aegean …” Miraculously, when she is basking in the late-afternoon sunlight, light that casts a “luminous golden glow over the mist,” she is struck by the similarity to a place she loves: Greece. Within minutes, she calls Caleb, tells him to meet her at the Edinburgh Airport. Off they go in his “fancy jet” to try to rescue Lisa.

Mind Game is more than a thriller, it’s a heart-in-the-throat race against time with action immersed in a story of family, loyalty, and friendship.

Read an excerpt from Mind Game!


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Janet Webb aka @JanetETennessee has unpredictable opinions on books. Season ticket holder of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. Social media devotee. Stories on royals and politics catch my eye. Ottawa born. Grew up on the books of Helen MacInnes, Mary Stewart, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Anne Perry … I'm always looking for a great new mystery series.

Read all of Janet Webb's articles for Criminal Element!


  1. Carol Lawman

    I truly enjoyed this book; I love the charactors and their “gifts”, but I hope they don’t all get together too often because it was beginning to read like a super hero story and almost ruined it for me.

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