Just as there are sculptors who insist they liberate forms imprisoned within marble and granite, Eve Duncan, the strong-willed heroine of Body of Lies, is a forensic sculptor driven by a need to liberate innocence from the shroud of death. Tops in her field, Eve obsesses over recreating the likenesses of faceless, decomposed murder victims, using only their bare skulls as a guide. It's a spooky career that began when Eve's own daughter, Bonnie, vanished and was later discovered, the girl's remains unrecognizable. In Body of Lies, a killer uncovers a shocking truth about Bonnie, driving a rattled Eve to take a dangerous assignment in the darkest heart of bayou country. There, at the weird behest of a shady senator, Eve rebuilds the visage of the politician's late rival, a challenge that nearly results in her murder, strains her romance with a hard-bitten detective, and uncovers a fantastic global conspiracy over energy profits and much else. Wildly ambitious, Iris Johansen's Body of Lies inspires paranoia about the rich and powerful, though it gets unwieldy when Johansen's action writing and characters don't plausibly sustain the image of a secret society hell-bent on world domination. More effective are her bright supporting characters (especially Eve's Liverpudlian protector, Galen), bursts of descriptive wit, and insights into her wounded but dogged heroine. --Tom KeoghFrom Publishers WeeklyForensic sculptor Eve Duncan is neither the cleverest fictional female detective nor the most original, but the meticulous care she devotes to her profession despite the emotional turmoil in her life makes her highly sympathetic. Here, she is tricked into leaving her adopted daughter, Jane, and cop boyfriend, Joe Quinn, to go to Baton Rouge. An influential senator and a fratricidal psychopath want her to work in a remote bayou to identify a battered skull, which may be all that remains of former senatorial candidate Harold Bentley. Duncan tries to reconstruct the skull's features, but it's hard to focus when someone has just tried to poison you and may be on his way to blow up your family. Duncan and wisecracking Sean Galen, hired by her Atlanta friends to protect her, are soon joined by potbellied reporter Bill Nathan, while in the shadows lurks Jules Hebert, a dangerous man of many disguises. First, Duncan's cook dies, then the cook's son, and then lies and dead bodies begin to pile up as Duncan struggles to finish the reconstruction and forgive Quinn for concealing the truth about her dead daughter, Bonnie. A barely credible anti-environment global conspiracy known only as the Cabal drives villains and good guys alike to violence as the story nears its explosive climax at an ex-president's funeral. Prolific bestselling author Johansen (Final Target) builds suspense by thrusting Duncan simultaneously into the unknown and back into the arms of her family in a romantic thriller whose plot may not stand much probing, but whose humanity keeps the reader rooting for its heroine every step of the way. (Mar. 26)Forecast: Major radio and print advertising and promotion, previewed in every paperback copy of Final Target: the only question here is how high Johansen will climb on the lists. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.