Face of the Enemy by Joanne Dobson and Beverle Graves Myers
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (380 pages)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lavender
December 1941: America reels from the brutal attack on Pearl Harbor. Both patriotism and paranoia grip New York as the city frantically mobilizes for war. Nurse Louise Hunter is outraged when the FBI, in a midnight sweep of prominent Japanese residents,storms in to arrest her patient’s wife. The desperately ill Professor Oakley is married to Masako Fumi, an avant-garde artist who has befriended Louise, a newcomer to the bustling city. The nurse vows to help the professor free Masako.
When the murdered body of Masako’s art dealer is discovered in the gallery where he’d been closing down her controversial show, Masako’s troubles multiply. Homicide detective Michael McKenna doubts her guilt, but an ambitious G-man schemes to lever the homicide and ensuing espionage accusations into a political cause célèbre.
Louise hires a radical lawyer famous for shouldering human rights cases as the Oakleys’ friends and colleagues desert them one by one. She also enlists the help of her journalist roommate. But has the nurse been too trusting? Sensing a career-making story, Cabby Ward sets out to exploit Masako’s dilemma for her own gain, bumping heads with Lieutenant McKenna at every turn.
Struggling to focus on one man’s murder while America plunges into a worldwide war, Louise and McKenna defy both racism and ham-fisted government agents in order to expose the real killer.
A talented artist in New York, a lovely person, becomes the victim hatred and false accusations. Why? She’d never hurt anyone. But, it’s December 1941, and the kind-hearted artist is Japanese.
Masako’s art dealer is murdered. In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, could someone really be so hate-filled as to kill a man for featuring Japanese art in his gallery, and then setting up circumstances to make it look as if the artist herself did it? Well, this is a murder mystery, so there’s a little more to it.
Louise is a nurse assigned to care for Masako’s husband because he is deathly sick with pneumonia. To make matters worse, Masako is roughly rounded up by the FBI and put into containment due to her heritage. Louise witnesses this and wants to help.
Louise lives in a home with other women, an interesting group of characters. One is a pushy reporter, Cabby, who works for the Times. Cabby gets into her own predicaments. The housemother is German and has a teenage son. When the boy discovers that his missing father is a Nazi, he’s disgusted and runs away out of state to sign up for the American military. Things don’t turn out as he plans. The Nazi returns for his boy, and the boy’s mother refuses him. Meanwhile, Louise hires a great lawyer to help out her patient’s Japanese wife.
These characters are realistic, and the 1940s world drawn by the authors is perfect for the unrolling of the plot. Things keep happening, moving the pace right along. For a good murder mystery set in a vintage world, why not check this one out?