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FACE OF THE ENEMY
by Joanne Dobson and Beverle Graves Myers
Poisoned Pen Press, September 2012
390 pages
$14.95
ISBN: 1464200327


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

New York City, December 1941: suddenly and without warning, Pearl Harbor has been attacked by the Japanese, and America is gripped by hysteria. Asians are banned from American citizenship, and across the nation the FBI is arresting Japanese and Germans as enemy aliens. Caught up in this net is Masako Fumi, a prominent artist and the wife of American academic Robert Oakley. She is taken to a federal detention center on Ellis Island, where she is interrogated about her homeland connections. The fact that her father is an important official in the Japanese government doesn't help. As the federal agents press her relentlessly in an effort to determine whether she is an enemy agent, local authorities make an ominous discovery: one of Masako's paintings at a local gallery has been defaced, and at the base of the painting lies the body of the owner of the art gallery. He has been brutally murdered.

Robert Oakley is elderly and infirm, and his doctor realizes that he could well take a turn for the worse unless his wife's plight is cleared up. He persuades Oakley's nurse, Louise Hunter, to look into the case and try to gain his wife's release. No investigator, but concerned about Oakley's precarious health, she reluctantly agrees. Her roommate, Cabby Ward, is a journalist who's been relegated to minor stories, her male colleagues assigned to cover the war. Sensing an important story in Masako's situation, she offers to help Louise; but she has her own agenda. Before the dust settles their inquiries will reach from Masako's circle of personal friends to embrace people she doesn't even know, immigrants like herself, but from very different worlds. It seems that when nations collide everyone is caught up in the maelstrom, and no one is safe.

In FACE OF THE ENEMY Dobson and Myers effectively capture a turbulent time in American history, and exploit it to dramatic effect. They've done their homework, and it shows: the dialogue is right, and the dated attitudes and actions that marked the events of those days come through clearly and believably. Using multiple points of view and converging plotlines the authors have produced a compelling tale of how a nation can go wrong in the heat of the moment, with life-changing results.

Since 2005 Jim Napier's reviews have appeared in several Canadian newspapers and on such websites as SPINETINGLER, THE RAP SHEET, SHOTS MAGAZINE, CRIMETIME, and JANUARY MAGAZINE, as well as on his own award-winning site, DEADLY DIVERSIONS. He can be reached at jnapier@deadlydiversions.com

Reviewed by Jim Napier, November 2012

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