Double Blind: A Novel

Double Blind: A Novel

by Iris Johansen, Roy Johansen

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Overview

The #1 New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award winning authors are back with an electrifying new novel that will leave your heart racing.

Kendra Michaels, formerly blind and now a hired gun for law enforcement agencies who relies on her razor-sharp powers of observation, is reluctant to help the FBI with the most recent case they’ve brought to her. But then she hears the details: the body was found just blocks away from Kendra’s condo. The young woman was carrying an envelope with Kendra’s name on it, and inside was an SD card with what appears to be an innocuous video of a wedding reception. The woman died trying to get the video to Kendra, but for what purpose? Before Kendra and the FBI can answer that question, the bride is abducted from her suburban home.

And so the hunt is on for a killer whose nightmarish plan is slowly becoming clear. A plan that involves a powerful law firm and a multi-billion dollar corporation. As the body count rises, Kendra joins forces with private investigator Jessie Mercado and agent-for-hire Adam Lynch to stop the plot as it grows ever closer to its terrifying conclusion.

In Double Blind, Iris and Roy Johansen deliver an emotional, gripping new entry in the bestselling Kendra Michaels series.

Praise for Double Blind:

“Magnetic characters and a twisty, suspenseful plot ensure that readers will eagerly anticipate the next installment.” —Publishers Weekly

“When it comes to delivering amazing tales of edge-of-your-seat suspense, team Johansen and Johansen have proven they are unbeatable! Kendra Michaels is an exceptionally compelling protagonist…Get the snacks ready and keep the lights on, for this book will keep you hanging on until the last word!” RT Book Reviews (5 stars)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250076021
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 02/26/2019
Series: Kendra Michaels Series , #6
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 93,316
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

IRIS JOHANSEN is the New York Times bestselling author of Hide Away, Shadowplay, The Perfect Witness, Live to See Tomorrow, Silencing Eve, Hunting Eve, Taking Eve, What Doesn’t Kill You, and more.

ROY JOHANSEN is an Edgar Award winning author. He has written many well-received mysteries, including Deadly Visions, Beyond Belief, and The Answer Man.

Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen have together written The Naked Eye, Close Your Eyes, Shadow Zone, Storm Cycle, Silent Thunder, and Look Behind You.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

"I WANT TO BREAK BOTH WRISTS," Kendra Michaels said. "Can you teach me that?"

Adam Lynch smiled. "Yours or mine?"

"Yours, of course. Show me how."

They stood on mats spread out over a grassy patch of Sunset Cliffs Park, overlooking a particularly stunning view of the Pacific Ocean. It was always windy there, but the breeze had kicked up considerably in the past few minutes.

Kendra tugged at her worn T-shirt as she crouched into a defensive stance. "I'm serious. I saw it on YouTube. An Israeli military guy demonstrated how to disarm an attacker and break both of his wrists."

Lynch laughed. "YouTube, huh? What do you need me for?"

"I'm beginning to ask myself just that question. You've shown me a few things, but now it's time to get serious. You said you'd teach me how to defend myself."

"Defend yourself, yes. I didn't promise to turn you into a killing machine."

Kendra half smiled. "Then what good are you?"

"I've been attempting to demonstrate that to you for a long time." He flashed that movie-star smile. "Oh, you mean in the more deadly arts that aren't nearly as much fun. Here's the best advice I can give: Once you disarm your attacker, your best defense is to just get the hell away."

"It'll be easier to get away if my attacker is howling in pain and nursing a pair of broken wrists."

"I can't argue with that. But you need to walk before you can run, okay?" Lynch raised a small piece of wood. "Pretend this is a knife, and —"

"Pretty sorry excuse for a knife."

"Pretend, okay? The first thing you need to do is —?"

In a lightning-fast motion, Kendra gripped his wrists, ducked, and spun around. She bent forward, using Lynch's weight against him.

"Oww!" Lynch yelled.

"See?" She still gripped his wrists over her shoulders. "If I had just thrown myself a little more forward, your wrists would now be toast."

From behind, he gently rested his chin on her right shoulder. "And that might have worked on some people."

"You're saying it wouldn't have worked on you?"

"Afraid not."

He quickly closed his right arm, snapping it across her throat. "I could have broken your neck before you even finished turning around. Or, if I wanted, I could now be cutting off your oxygen in a nasty choke hold." He leaned close and whispered into her ear. "Today's lesson — don't trust your life to YouTube."

She fought to free herself, but he held firm.

He chuckled. "Don't get discouraged. Your move probably would have worked on a common street thug."

"You're a pretty common thug yourself."

He laughed, his breath feeling warm in her ear.

"Are you quite finished?" she asked.

"Not in the slightest." He slid his other arm across her torso. "You're the one who put us into this rather pleasurable position."

"And now I'm trying to get out of it."

"You're not trying very hard."

"Don't flatter yourself."

"I've missed you, Kendra. I'm glad you called."

She found herself relaxing against him. Not a good idea. She could feel his hardness, his warmth, could breathe in the scent of him. She forced herself to stiffen again. "Yeah?"

"How very noncommittal of you."

"I called because you've been promising to show me a few things."

"Oh, I will." He pulled her even closer. "If only you'll let me."

She snorted. "I walked right into that one."

He released his hold and gently turned her around. "You don't think it would be amazing?"

She was about to make another crack, but she stopped herself. It would be amazing. She'd known Adam Lynch for over two years, and they'd faced scores of life-and-death situations together, seen each other at their best and worst. But in the past few months, she found herself thinking about him more and more in that way. There had been moments that had verged on explosive when she had wanted only one thing from him. She had been so close ... What was stopping her?

"What's holding you back?" he whispered, as if reading her mind.

She looked away. "You're ... complicated."

"In some ways. And so are you. But there's nothing complicated about the way I feel about you. That's extremely simple."

"Ha. There's nothing simple about you."

"Stop pretending that's a minus and not a plus."

She moistened her lips. "Look, you promised to show me some self- defense techniques and I just took you up on it."

"Liar. Metcalf or any of your other FBI buddies would have been happy to teach you whatever you wanted to know. And yet you called me."

"I thought I'd feel more comfortable with you. I'm now starting to seriously doubt my judgment on that count."

"I think you were bored. Maybe you thought that it was time to forget about comfort." He chuckled as he strolled over to her backpack and got them each a bottle of water. "Because you knew exactly what you were going to get from me, Kendra. I've been more patient than you've ever known me to be. Both of us had some healing to do after that last case we worked together. But I regard this summons as very promising. You must have missed me." He took a swallow of water. "Think about it."

"I'm thinking that I haven't missed either your arrogance or your ego," she said dryly.

He threw back his head and laughed. "Okay, maybe it wasn't an excuse. So why the sudden interest in breaking men's bones?" His smile faded. "Has something made you particularly afraid?"

Lord, now he was getting protective. "No. And for the record, it's not just men's bones. I'm entirely open to breaking women's bones if the occasion demands it."

"I stand corrected. Why?" Kendra took a swallow from her bottle and turned toward the ocean where whitecaps collided with the rocky coastline. "By my best estimate, I've come close to being murdered twenty-six times in the last few years."

"Hmm. Interesting. Twenty-six times."

"Yes. That may be a typical Tuesday for you, but I'm a music therapist. I didn't sign up for this."

"You are having a bad day, aren't you? You're more than a music therapist. You catch killers on a fairly routine basis. That puts you in a special category."

She grimaced. "Lunatic?"

He shook his head. "No, someone who can't just stand by and watch while people are being hurt. And you have as much a gift for it as you do for music therapy. Maybe more. So suck it up and accept it."

"Your sympathy is incredibly touching."

He grinned. "You don't want my sympathy. You'd punish me if you thought I was offering it. But we've known each other long enough for you to admit that I do understand you." He shrugged. "Look, you were born blind and spent the first twenty years of your life in the dark before you got your sight. That's amazing. But you know what? If you'd never gotten that surgical procedure, you'd still be an amazing person. You made the best of what you had. You adapted. You used your other senses — your hearing, touch, sense of smell, all of them — to pick up things the rest of us ignore."

"All blind people do that."

"True. But now that you have your sight, you also apply that same level of concentration on things you see."

"Like I've told you, after being in the dark for so long, I can't take things I see for granted. I don't see how anyone can."

"Well, all these things combine to make you an incredible investigator. You walk onto a crime scene and detect things no other cop could dream of picking up. It's no wonder the police and FBI are always fighting over you."

"You're exaggerating."

"Not really. And as much as you claim to be bothered by these cases, the intrusion on your life and your practice, you could always say no."

"I have, many times."

"But there have also been many times when you've said yes."

"Hence the twenty-six attempts on my life."

Lynch shrugged. "You do it because innocent people will die if you don't. That makes you a very special person."

"You do it."

"I used to do it. These days I'm well paid to do a variety of things, and a scant few of my activities involve saving lives."

Kendra turned to look at him. "Probably because those variety of things fall into an entirely different and lethal category." Lynch had been an FBI agent, but he now worked freelance for whatever government agency was willing to pay for his services. He rarely talked specifics about his assignments, and she knew better than to try and press him for details.

Lynch flashed his high-wattage smile at her again. "This is a long way of saying that I'm glad you're thinking more about defending yourself. For one thing, I want you to be safe. But it also means that you've reached some measure of peace about helping in these investigations. You're obviously thinking about doing more in the future?" "Not necessarily. Maybe. But when I do, I want to be better prepared for whatever comes my way."

"Have you thought about carrying a gun?" he asked quietly. "I have an excellent supplier who —" "I'm sure you do, but I don't want a gun."

"You just want to crunch bones."

"For now."

His blue eyes were suddenly glinting with mischief. "Okay, I can help you with that. Crunching bones is one of my specialties."

She had no intention of asking about any of his other "specialties." "Thanks."

Lynch nodded. "Have you ever thought about a more formal arrangement with the FBI?"

She smiled. "Like being on retainer?"

"Not exactly."

Her eyes narrowed on him. "Surely you don't mean actually joining up?"

"They'd love to have you."

She couldn't believe it. "Quantico, a cubicle at the regional office, the whole bit?"

"Yep." His lips were turning up at the corners. "FBI Special Agent Kendra Michaels. It has a certain ring to it, doesn't it? I knew you'd particularly like the idea of the cubicle. Griffin asked if I'd float it out to you. I told him he was crazy."

"He should have listened. Why didn't he talk to me about this himself?"

He said, deadpan, "For some reason, he thought I might want to flex my considerable powers of persuasion over you."

She burst out laughing.

Lynch nodded. "Exactly the reaction I thought you'd have. First of all, despite my reputation for bending people to my will —"

"They don't call you The Puppetmaster for nothing."

"I still hate that nickname."

"Too bad. Please continue."

"Griffin should know you're fairly unpersuadable by me or anyone else. And even if I could talk you into such a thing, why would I, when I couldn't wait to get free of the FBI's clutches myself?"

"I already have a career."

"I told him that. He thought maybe you could continue doing it on the side."

"Like a hobby?" Kendra cursed under her breath. "Music therapy may not seem like a real job to some people, but I'm a scientist. Research studies, control groups, double-blind experiments ... I get results and I can prove it."

"I know that, Kendra. And so does Griffin."

"And I help people."

"Again, you're preaching to the converted. I've seen what you're able to do for your clients."

She took a few deep breaths. She was attacking the wrong person. She knew she had Lynch's respect. But her anger had just overflowed. Just relax. "If this subject comes up again, tell Griffin I said to go to hell."

"Not necessary." Lynch was gazing beyond her shoulder and he nodded behind her. "Tell him yourself."

Kendra turned to see FBI Agent in Charge Michael Griffin walking toward them on the path from Ladera Street. He was with another agent, Roland Metcalf.

She turned back to Lynch. "You've got to be kidding. You told him we were coming up here?"

"No." Lynch looked totally mystified. "You didn't tell him?"

Kendra turned back to watch the two FBI agents, dressed in their dark suits. They looked ridiculously out of place at this oceanside recreation spot.

She called out as soon as they were within earshot. "Not interested in your job, Griffin. May as well go home."

Michael Griffin wrinkled his brow. He was a slender man with hair that was now almost entirely silver. He headed the FBI San Diego regional office and he seemed to earn the respect of his colleagues even as he annoyed the hell out of Kendra.

Griffin glanced at Lynch, then back to her. "Oh. Guess you won't be getting fitted for that windbreaker."

"Afraid not. Pity."

"But that's not why I'm here. There's something else I need to talk to you about."

"A case?" She stiffened. "No way. I'm extremely busy right now. I have a heavy client list, I have to present a paper in Denmark next month, and —"

"This isn't just any case, Kendra," Roland Metcalf said. He was a tall, attractive agent in his late twenties. Lynch insisted he had a crush on Kendra, and she'd only recently admitted it was probably true. "You'll want to see this."

She shook her head. "I seriously doubt that."

Lynch broke in. "Before you say one more word, I'd like to know how you knew you'd find her here. You didn't, by any chance, pull a warrantless trace on her mobile phone, did you?"

Griffin glared at him. "No. But interesting that was your immediate go-to. Maybe because it's what you would have done?"

Lynch didn't reply.

Kendra glanced impatiently from one to the other. "Never mind Lynch. We all know what intrusive and appalling things he's capable of."

"Thanks for the support," Lynch said dryly.

"So out with it," Kendra said. She didn't like the possibility Lynch had brought up. "How did you know?"

"We tried to call first," Metcalf said. "I guess that's your phone over there by the mat?"

"The one that's powered off? Yeah, that's mine."

"Then we went to your condo and you weren't there. But I just happen to know that your best friend lives one floor down from you, so I paid her a visit."

Kendra mock-slapped her forehead. "Olivia ... I told her I was coming here."

"And she told me." Metcalf grinned. "None of that fancy electronic snoop stuff for me. Hey, I'm a Federal agent. I know how to do things."

"Yeah, I guess you do," Kendra said absently. She was looking Metcalf and Griffin up and down. "So who was she?"

"Who?" Griffin said.

"Well, I'm not talking about Olivia. The murder victim in the case you're investigating. It was a woman, wasn't it?"

The two men nodded.

"Then let's get this over with, Griffin. You got a call in the middle of the night, probably from San Diego PD. Fortunately, your wife wasn't disturbed because she wasn't with you. Not having trouble again at home, I hope?"

Griffin's forehead creased in annoyance. "Were you this big a pain in the ass when you were blind?"

"Oh, you have no idea."

"Wrong. I have a very good idea. For the record, there's no trouble at home," Griffin said. "My wife has been up in Portland for the past couple of weeks caring for her mother. Okay?"

"Okay."

"Let her continue." Lynch was smiling slyly at both Kendra's demonstration and Griffin's unease. "I love this part."

"I'm not here to entertain you, Lynch." She continued to study Griffin and Metcalf. "After you got the call, Griffin, you could have tasked it out to Metcalf or dozens of other agents at your disposal. But something about this case made you get out of bed and go to the scene yourself. You don't generally subject yourself to that kind of punishment. One of the perks of being boss."

"Sometimes being boss isn't all it's cracked up to be."

"This was obviously one of those times," Kendra replied. "The murder was in the city. The body was outdoors on the street. The police left her out there for quite a while longer than usual. Maybe waiting for you? But not only for you. You decided to call Metcalf to join you. He arrived not long after you did and spent even more time inspecting the corpse than you did."

Metcalf smiled. He was obviously enjoying her riff, but Griffin still seemed mildly annoyed.

Kendra studied Metcalf for a moment longer. "So you had to get up in the middle of the night, too. But you weren't alone. Overnight female companionship obviously isn't a problem for you, is it, Metcalf?"

"Shit." He grimaced. "Now I'm in for it?"

"I don't see why not. I hope you know her well, 'cause it's kind of awkward to leave a stranger alone in your house."

Metcalf smiled sheepishly. "I know her ... pretty well."

"I think you're safe. I'd say she makes more than you do."

"Right again. She's a software engineer."

Lynch patted him on the shoulder. "As long as it's not another FBI agent. That didn't work out too well for you last time, did it?"

The smile instantly disappeared from Metcalf's face. "Uh, can we move on? Please?"

Kendra smiled. "Sure, Metcalf. But there's one thing I can't figure out ... Why are you coming to me with this case? You usually wait days or even weeks before you decide you want my help. It's only been hours."

"It wasn't our idea," Griffin said sourly.

Kendra frowned. "Then whose idea was it?"

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Double Blind"
by .
Copyright © 2018 IJ Development, Inc. and Roy Johansen.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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