For eight years, ex-CIA agent Grace Archer has put her turbulent past behind her. Motherhood motivated her to use her special talent for training even the most difficult of horses to make a new life for herself and her brilliant young daughter, Frankie, at a horse farm in rural Alabama. Grace’s hopes, that this bucolic paradise will escape the scrutiny of a powerful enemy she made in her turbulent past life, are shattered when villains attack their farm in the middle of the night.
Grace narrowly escapes with Frankie. Now on the run from the vast resources of her vengeful enemy, their future looks bleak, especially when the CIA withdraws its protection. Only Jake Kilmer, her former lover and mentor, can help them now. However, Grace is reluctant to trust him since he got her father killed in the last mission they’d worked together. A pair of mysterious Arabian horses, a secret hidden in depths of the Sahara, sexual heat that rivals that of the desert and an omnipotent villain compound the intrigue.
On the Run is Iris Johansen’s new stand-alone thriller and a departure from her famous Eve Duncan forensic thrillers. But this story has its merits, too. Grace Archer is a strong woman made weak by motherhood. Her natural instincts to stand and fight are overcome by her concern for the well-being of young Frankie. Thankfully Kilmer is there to take up the slack. However, the mistrust as well the undeniable sexual heat between them repeatedly throws a spanner in the works. Grace, Frankie and Jake each have different and unusual abilities, and this helps make the plot somewhat unusual.
Johansen’s intrigue provides an in-depth look at the nature of international politics as well as a caustic look at the dealings between legal government agencies and not-so legal mercenaries. From the U.S., the action soon shifts to Morocco then to the Sahara Desert and sweeps the reader along. Who the powerful villain is and the reason why he’s after Grace is hidden through most of the book, and Johansen drops just enough hints to keep the reader hooked. But when ultimately revealed, it sadly lacks resonance and, although fantastic in itself, doesn’t justify the great hype. That apart, the ending, while a whirlwind of action, is also sadly anti-climactic. However, these flaws do not deter from the fact that this is a roller-coaster ride of a story that will surely keep readers enthralled and entertained for the major part.