After covering the devastation in Somalia and Sarajevo, photojournalist Bess Grady signs on for a cushy travel magazine assignment shooting a quaint little Mexican village called Tenajo. But given the title of Johansen's latest thriller, it doesn't take a genius to guess that her plans will go awry. Indeed, within 15 pages, Grady has stumbled into a terrorist plot to unleash a deadly biological weapon on the U.S. through contaminated currency. And naturally the only people who can thwart the attack are Grady herself and an enigmatic CIA operative code-named Kaldak, who may have his own murderous agenda.
Despite the fairly predictable woman-in-jeopardy premise (any bets on whether Grady and Kaldak will become romantically involved?), Johansen keeps the reader intrigued with complex characters and plenty of plot twists. Her prose is more straightforward than stylish, but the story moves so fast, you'll be reading the epilogue before you notice. (Bantam, $22.95)