Book Review: Dark Tribute by Iris Johansen (Even Duncan #24)

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Dark Tribute by Iris JohansenDark Tribute is the latest novel in the Eve Duncan series by popular romantic suspense author Iris Johansen. I’ve been reading the series faithfully from the very first book, and while my excitement about it has dampened a bit over the years, the books are still engaging and some of my favorites in the genre.

Each book focuses on one particular character, and Dark Tribute is no different. Here we have as central role Cara Delaney, beloved ward of Eve Duncan and Joe Quinn. She is also Jock Gavin’s love interest, although so far that love – albeit strongly returned – was only platonic in nature. This book, however, seems to change some of that, although I will leave out any major spoilers.

So Cara and Jock feature mostly in the book, although some of our other favorite characters are also present and helping Jock trying to get back Cara from her kidnappers. We meet once again Eve, Joe, and we even see a slightly more humane side of Cara’s grandfather, the big Russian crime lord, whom we so much love to hate. And, my favorite characters of all, Michael, Eve and Joe’s son, was ever present doing his quite important part in saving Cara from her grandfather’s enemies who took her for revenge.

I loved the book, however, I did mention above that fondness for the series is slightly eroding, and that due to several reasons. While reading the rescue part where everyone got together for that major attempt, I had a deja-vu from previous books where the story was almost identical, except it was not in the mountains. For a second I thought I was re-reading that book.

Also, while I dearly love the precocious kid, Michael, and accept that he is special and an old soul – way older than his actual years, he is still just a kid. Yet, in the book, the way he talks is very mature, using words that even I’m not using them all that often because they’re so distinct and people simply don’t speak that way, forget about kids who do not have the necessary vocabulary to know, pronounce, and understand those words, phrases, and sentences.

Unless Michael was possessed (which nowhere in the book is mentioned, so it’s probably not the case), Michael simply shouldn’t be able to speak as eloquently and maturely the way he spoke in this book. It is physically impossible, and sadly, that those bits took me out of the story quite often. Still, he is an adorable kid and I’m looking forward to reading more about his story as well.

Finally, at times, I found the dialogue between characters a bit forced. It was not about specific two characters or the Michael issue I mentioned above. It is a general issue I’ve noticed through the entire book. Had I not known Iris Johansen’s talent, I would have thought this was someone’s debut novel. Characters were saying words that simply don’t get said in general conversation, making the entire dialogue overly long, and it all sounded a bit woody.

Still, Dark Tribute was a fun read in one of my favorite romantic suspense series, and I love Iris Johansen’s work to bit, so my nitpicking didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story all too much, and I’m now eagerly looking forward to Smokescreen, the new Eve Duncan book to come out this very July.

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