DARK TRIBUTE by Iris Johansen shows why she is such an amazing author.  The story has a riveting plot, very likeable protagonists, and a completely evil antagonist. 

Fans of Johansen finally get their wish. This book highlights Cara Delaney, whose guardians are forensic sculptor Eve Duncan and Atlanta Police Detective Joe Quinn. Now as a grown woman she desires to pursue her love of playing the violin with her love of longtime friend, Jock Gavin. He was solely her protector when Cara was younger, but throughout the years the bond between them has only strengthened and their feelings for each other have increased. Yet, Jock is afraid to act on his feelings because he feels like Cara deserves better than him, and a relationship with him will just put her in danger because of his being a cold-blooded killer. But their desires for each other have been put on hold after a mysterious man, John Svardak, kidnaps Cara, pay back for what happened to his family.

Many years ago, Svardak’s father and brother broke Cara’s grandfather’s Sergai Kaskov’s fingers in the gulag where they were imprisoned together. Kaskov settled the score by murdering Svardak’s sister Anna, his father, and his brother. Now the kidnapper wants revenge and plans on torturing Cara, while hiding out in the wilds of West Virginia. Eve, Joe, Jock, and Kaskov race against time to find and rescue her.Even her ten-year-old step brother, Michael, gets involved because of his telepathy and psychic skills. They all must use their skills and instincts to find Cara before something dreadful happens to her.

This book as with all Johansen novels shows how strong family bonds can protect each other.  It also has a criminal that is immoral and psychotic. Readers will not want to put the book down.

Elise Cooper:  You put Cara into a situation where she becomes a strong woman?

Iris Johansen:  I do not think she thinks of herself as invincible.  But in this book, she does get much tougher and uses her wits to find ways to thwart the bad guy. What she went through as a child gave her a basic strength, but now, in having to confront the villain she becomes SUPER GIRL by using her mind and the tools available to best her kidnapper.

EC:  How would you describe Cara?

IJ: Determined, vulnerable, caring, strong-willed, and stubborn. 

EC:  How would you describe her friend/lover Jock?

IJ:  He never changes.  He is tough and wonderful.  He is the best-looking thing on earth.  Very protective, a loner, and also stubborn.  He butts heads a lot with Cara in the relationship, which is what makes sparks fly.

EC:  How would you describe the relationship?

IJ:  They are best friends.  Since he is older than she is Cara had to grow up and have a life of her own before she could have any type of a relationship.  I think of them as a fairy tale couple. They have very strong bonds that formed almost instantly.  I think their getting together is inevitable. They are equals. My readers asked when was I getting them together, and I said, ‘now.’ I love writing the characters and develop them to a point that the relationship becomes a strong explosion.

EC:  How would you describe the grandfather, Kaskov?

IJ:  I cannot figure out if I like or dislike him. I start out with a kernel of an idea, and then I let the story and the characters go where they want to go. I gave him a reason for being who he is because I wanted him to be a complete person.  I would describe him as powerful, deceitful, an enigma.  I don’t know if he knows if he has a conscience.

EC:  Manipulation versus persuasion?

IJ:  I have them in all of my books.  Clever characters can be manipulated, but then know how to overcome it.  I do think there is a difference between manipulation and persuasion.  Manipulation is deliberate, and has an undertone that could be good or bad.  I think persuasion is softer and silkier.

EC:  You have given Michael psychic skills?

IJ:  He is a Golden Boy.  When he uses manipulation, it is instinctive and will help a situation come to a wonderful conclusion.

EC:  What role do you think music plays?

IJ:  Music is a strong part of Cara’s life.  I used it as a dark, dark draw into the retribution. I think the violin is very important to Cara, and she has a strong bond with it.  She says, “I love it because it makes beautiful music.  We complete each other.  We make beautiful music together.” During dark times people turn to music for comfort. 

EC:  Do you listen to music?

IJ: I am a fan of all sorts of music.  I even write to music all of the time.  I enjoy everything from Broadway to John Williams to country music.  I think people who write country music are true story tellers.

EC: Your bad guys are pure evil?

IJ:  I cannot write my bad guys that have feelings and I do not want the reader to pity them.  I don’t want anyone to half root for the bad guy.  For me, a good story contrasts the bad guys with the good guys. 

EC:  Your next books?

IJ:  The end of the summer has a book that is purely Eve entitled Smoke Screen. Her career will come to the forefront.  There will be some new characters, but of course Joe and Michael will be in it.  Next year has a book out that focuses on Jane and Seth’s story.  It is called Persuasion.  I bet when we were talking about persuasion and manipulation you thought of Seth.  Michael, Joe, and Eve will also be in that book.