cover image Long After Midnight

Long After Midnight

Iris Johansen. Bantam Books, $22.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-553-09715-3

Some familiar elements appear in Johansen's (The Ugly Duckling) new thriller: a heroic scientist on the cusp of a billion-dollar medical breakthrough; a rakish sidekick; an intrepid, appealing heroine; and a murderous and corrupt corporation in league with a corrupt politician. But Johansen knows how to take the formula and run with it, and readers will be won over by her flesh-and-blood characters, crackling dialogue and lean, suspenseful plotting. Kate Denby, recently divorced and the mother of a nine-year-old boy, is trying as hard as she can to refuse a prestigious job that will uproot her from her stable life. But Noah Smith, the prize-winning scientist to whom Kate's research is essential, won't give up easily. Any chance of stability vanishes, however, when someone blows up Noah's lab, killing most of his employees, and tries to kill Kate. She and her son soon find themselves under the watchful eye of a psychopathic hit man whose madness is steeped in the killing techniques and spirit lore of Indian warriors. Kate has no choice but to join forces with Noah--in hiding. In addition to Noah, Kate has another love interest--Noah's friend and protector, Seth, a hard-edged mercenary who lives dangerously and savors the moment. A thread of the story involving Kate's father, a respected doctor felled by Alzheimer's, surfaces to give the deft but somewhat protracted finish a moving, unexpected touch. Major ad/promo. (Feb.)