LIVE TO SEE TOMORROW - Iris Johansen
St. Martin's Press
Hong Kong, Present Day
Erin Sullivan is an American journalist believed to have been kidnapped in the mountains of Tibet when she disappeared on her way to write a story about an orphanage. The CIA has to send in an operative to rescue her, and they call upon Catherine Ling. Catherine, a hot shot CIA operative for many years, is on her way to pick up her son in Hong Kong and refuses the assignment. Catherine does not want to get involved because she has been working so diligently to build and develop a relationship with her son, recently returned after being kidnapped for nine years by a Russian criminal. Catherine only cares about two people; her son Luke and her mentor, Hu Chang, who has been watching over Luke while she has been on assignment. Taking this job now, however interesting, would potentially reverse all the strides Catherine has made in nurturing her blossoming relationship with her complicated boy, and she won't risk losing him again.
Catherine finds out that Hu Chang plans to go to Tibet instead of her. He tells her that he has been asked to intervene by a man he respects highly, and he definitely does not want Catherine involved. Catherine is worried for her friend and does not want to risk his safety, so she makes the decision to go in place of Hu Chang and without his knowledge. Her plan is to be in and out of Tibet as quickly as possible so that she can get on with her plan to spend several days with her son and Hu Chang. When she calls her CIA contact to confirm her acceptance, she finds out that the kidnapper, Paul Kadmus, is a soldier turned mercenary who has been hiding out in the Tibetan mountains for over 40 years. He is deranged and has built himself an empire of sorts, operating both legitimately and criminally and he clearly wants something from Erin Sullivan. When Catherine learns Erin has been tortured, she makes the decision to go to Tibet where she will have to outwit one of the most dangerous criminals in the world and contend with the difficult terrain and weather of the Tibetan mountains.
Not surprisingly, the mission does not go as smoothly as Catherine had hoped. But Catherine meets an ally: Richard Cameron, a mysterious and enigmatic man with whom Erin and Hu Chang are both acquainted. Cameron is shrouded in mystery when Catherine meets him during... her dreams?? But no, Cameron is very real. He has his own agenda, but he definitely helps both Catherine and Erin to eventual safety, although no one is really safe while Kadmus is pursuing them…and Kadmus refuses to give up. While Catherine is trying to put the pieces together of the puzzle that is Cameron, she is also fighting her increasing attraction to him. Nothing is easy, and it will take all of Catherine's strength and determination to make sure she and the people she cares most about get out of this adventure in one piece. But what will happen to Cameron?
LIVE TO SEE TOMORROW is another Johansen treat: an action packed thrill of a ride. The story line is certainly creative, but it does have a tendency to get bogged down in minutiae; there's almost too much going on. Certainly the development of a new heroine is refreshing. Catherine is a kick-ass heroine who is both smart and sensitive; she is wise beyond her years (even for a CIA agent) and has so much by way of street smarts that the reader just knows she will weather any storm and come out of any situation virtually unscathed. After starring in WHAT DOESN'T KILL YOU and appearing in some parts with Eve Duncan in some of Johansen's previous novels, there's still plenty of material to continue developing Catherine into a deep, multi layered character. Hu Chang and Luke are both interesting characters, and their development into strong supporting characters is smooth. However, Richard Cameron is a difficult character to like; he's almost otherworldly, which doesn't really fit well into this story. Without giving too much away, his "gifts" make him hard to relate to and somewhat arrogant. That said, this story is filled with interesting plot lines. It just didn't flow as well as it could have and needed to be somewhat streamlined for a more effective delivery.