Face of the Enemy
December, 1941. After the brutal attack on Pearl Harbor, New York is swept by patriotism and paranoia. The FBI prowls the city snatching up Japanese residents, and nurse Louise Hunter is outraged when the Feds arrest her patient’s wife, Masako Fumi Oakley, as an enemy alien. Troubles multiply for the sensitive Japanese artist when Masako is accused of murdering her art dealer as well as spying for her countrymen. Homicide detective Michael McKenna doubts Masako’s guilt, but the public is calling for blood and an ambitious G-man schemes to lever the charges into a political cause celebre. As the bustling city mobilizes for war, Louise vows to find the truth.
(105,000 words; e-book $6.99 USD, paperback $8.66)
Reviews of Face of the Enemy
“Savor the colorful characters and the evocation of Gotham in the 1940s: the Bund, America First, egg creams, Schrafft’s, Horn & Hardart. More, please.” – Kirkus
“This is a solid historical mystery, and its treatment of societal stereotyping of ethnic groups has obvious parallels today.” – Barbara Bibel in Booklist
“War is about to be declared against Germany and Japan. Americans are traumatized by Japan’s military attack on Pearl Harbor. Suspicion and prejudice are running high. Even before these momentous historical events, Masako Fumio’s art show is beset by anti-Japanese sentiment, specifically amplified by a woman who during the opening of the show throws a glass of wine at one of Masako’s best paintings. This painting combines abstract and traditional Japanese poetry in calligraphy, a combination that will make her the foremost target of FBI and New York police investigation after the sponsor of her art is murdered, his body deliberately left in front of the same painting.
Louise Hunter, a nurse taking care of Masako’s husband, Professor Oakley, is present when the FBI arrives to take Masako away for questioning and imprisonment. Louise enlists the help of a notable attorney to help free Masako, while Detective Mike McKenna investigates the murder of her art sponsor. Many so-called friends have alibis for the night of the murder, but they also have motives galore that earn them the label “suspect.”
What works so well in this novel is the perfect balance between history and the mystery being unraveled. The FBI is hoping to trade Masako with some high-ranking persons imprisoned in Japan; their obvious prejudice and devious treatment of Masako is guaranteed to elicit strong reactions from the reader. Mike McKenna is the perfect detective, slow to believe in Masako’s innocence but fair enough to hold off a final opinion until completion of his task. A subplot involving a Nazi sympathizer and his family adds unbridled tension. Overall, Face of the Enemy is an accurate, exciting novel, demonstrating the finest writing in historical fiction and the mystery genre. A must read!” —Historical Novel Society