Face of the Enemy: A New York Wartime Mystery
by Joanne Dobson and Beverle Graves Myers

Poisoned Pen Press, 2012. ISBN 978-1-464-20031-1.
Reviewed by Trilla Pando
Posted on 11/09/2012

Fiction: Historical; Fiction: Mystery

New York City is in turmoil during late November and early December of 1941. The country is not yet at war, but war is in the air. Hard feelings resonate against Germans and Japanese—even those who love and have long lived in the United States. People like Helda Schroeder, who dreams of gaining her American citizenship as she runs a boarding house for women in Brooklyn and is raising an All-American son, and famous Japan-born artist Masako Oakley, raised in Europe and devoted to her American husband. Their lives are about to change, as are the lives of all New Yorkers.

Face of the Enemy: A New York Wartime Mystery is a novel of intrigue and mystery set during the days of chaos leading up to the war. The story follows Masako Oakley, detained on Ellis Island as a citizen of Japan. Masako seeks the help of her ailing American husband's private nurse, Louise, who promptly finds her at the center of this mystery. Who does she find there? Cappy, her roommate from Mrs. Schroeder's boarding house and a New York Times reporter.

Friends (most of the time) help and hinder each other as Louise urgently works to free her friend and employer while Cappy looks for the story that will release her from the world of women's pages and tea parties. Face of the Enemy: A New York Wartime Mystery gets off to a roaring start and gains speeds through the next two weeks, when America goes to war and all lives change—not only those of Louise and Cappy, but particularly Masako.

Authors Joanne Dobson and Beverle Graves Myers (both seasoned mystery writers) are historians as well as novelists. They capture this troubled time with color and accuracy. Their turbulent story comes to a satisfying close leaving just enough questions that I have high hopes that this is the first book in a series. I hope so. I want to know more, not only about Louise and Cappy, but all of their fascinating housemates and of course the mother-hen Mrs. Shroeder.

Retired psychiatrist Beverle Graves Myers writes the Tito Amato mystery series as well as short stories. She loves opera and enjoys living in Kentucky. Visit her website.

New Yorker Joanne Dobson taught literature and creative writing at Forham University. Her book Quieter Than Sleep won an Agatha nomination. Learn more on her website.

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