The last few Eve Duncan books have been a grind. Eve promises to be the first of a trilogy that answers the big questions. With it’s focus firmly placed on Eve it’s better than the last few, but it doesn’t avoid what’s been bothering me about the series. Early on, Johansen had a choice to make. Either the series was about Eve, a woman whose personal tragedy forced her into the world of forensics, or it was about Eve, a woman searching endlessly for her child’s killer. (Is it a spoiler to say we don’t know who killed Bonnie? I’ve rather suspected Bonnie isn’t dead.) By keeping a foot in both worlds the books have been oddly unsatisfying with too many side characters brought along. Eve begins by introducing yet another important man – Bonnie’s father.
It’s a natural place to go, but it also highlights what has been wrong with the series. Everyone Eve knows is a borderline psychotic or a killer or both. She can’t get her hair cut without an operative asking to bang her and then declaring he’d kill half of Texas to help her find Bonnie’s killer. She reacts to declarations of passion the way I do to panhandlers. I swear if Eve went to McDonald’s for a bag of fries she’d get two hotel keys and witness a shooting. Eve herself walks the border of TSTL by her suicidal determination yet is oddly passive in her own story. Powerful men move around her and for her, but Eve does little of the heavy lifting. Moral ambiguity is another hallmark of Eve Duncan. There are no lines. People die, people are kidnapped, relationships are under constant threat of interlopers but the only thing that matters to Eve is if the person in question is on her side. She gives lip service to moral convictions, but that is all it is. People are tools to be used in her quest. Her inner voice at 16 is the same as it is at 35. She’s a consistent character, Eve.
Eve serves as a reboot to the series as well as the beginning of a closing trilogy. More than ever I am convinced Bonnie is alive. There was a period in the series that flirted with the supernatural which would have placed Bonnie firmly in the dead category, but Eve undermines that conviction and reopens the possibility that Bonnie is a teenager somewhere. I’m not sure I care anymore. A subplot in Eve and the last few books has been Joe Quinn resenting Eve’s inability to set aside the search for her daughter and the emotional distance she keeps as a result. I’m sort of with Joe. I don’t know that any ending for Bonnie could be satisfying for the reader at this point. If she is alive, it’s a bit deus ex machina. If Bonnie was the victim of a random slaying, all the world building has been pointless. If Bonnie was killed as part of a larger plot against one of her parents it requires a leap of faith the reader might not have, to think that her parents as they were at the time of her kidnapping would be worth such a plot. Ultimately, there is no satisfaction for the reader in a resolution of Bonnie’s death. Which, for me, is another arrow pointing to her survival.
Ugh. Who are we kidding? We all know I’m going to read the next two. Even if it’s speed reading and page skipping, after ten years it’s impossible to walk away when the end is in sight. At least the covers are gorgeous. This is a perfect way to represent Eve. The profile, the colors – true to character and eye catching. Fantastic cover design for the trilogy. Well, except for Bonnie. On her cover (the third and final book of the series) she looks a bit older than her age of abduction. Hm. What could that mean?