St. Martin’s, Apr 2009, $26.95
She goes to the hot spots of the world under the aegis of the United Nations to find the country’s historical treasures and bring them out; she returns them when hostilities cease. Currently archeologist Emily Hudson is in Afghanistan seeking artifacts in a remote hard to get to village in the shadow of Hindu Kush. She and her best friend and associate Joel Levy find nothing worth saving, but as they depart they find two of their crewmembers dead.
Joel and Emily are taken hostage by a deadly mercenary Staunton who has killed the rest of her team. He and his associates seek Zeliv’s Hammer and rejects Emily’s claim she never saw anything remotely like what he describes. Staunton tortures Joel until he dies; the terrorist expected Emily to break and provide him the answer he demands of her, but she remains in denial.
Meanwhile her disappearance has led to an international media tsunami. CIA Administrator Ferguson blackmails freelance operative John Garret to find and rescue Emily. He arrives in time to prevent her from being raped and brings her to his haven to recuperate. However, as she heals Emily knows she has one last mission to kill Staunton, but the malevolent monster has his own plan to recapture his meal ticket starting with killing a friend of Garrett that personalizes their battle as far as the American agent is concerned.
Iris Johanson novels denote bestseller and her exhilarating over the top of the Pamir Mountains is another sure shot. The story line is filled with action but it is the strong cast and the geography that make DEADLOCK a stunning thriller. The support characters add depth with two strong enough for their own tales. Garret and Emily are drawn to one another but before they can explore their attraction, they must deal with Staunton and his unmerciful mercenary horde.