I’ve come to the conclusion over the years that some of the best writers are those who write in multiple genres. These writers seem to be the most versatile, capable of mixing elements of different genres to create something fresh but with enough elements of the familiar that readers aren’t put off by the new.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch is such a writer. She’s written in a number of genres under multiple names. These include science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, thrillers, and romance at all lengths from short stories to novels, both stand alone and long running series. I’m probably leaving something out. What I do know is that I’ve enjoyed and been entertained by almost everything I’ve read that she’s written.
Her latest novel is a blend of mystery, political thriller, and alternate history. It was a compelling read I had trouble putting down. (Because of this blend, I’m posting this review on both my mystery blog and my fantasy blog since it should appeal to readers of both blogs.)
Ms. Rusch takes us back to the early days of 1964. The country is still reeling from the Kennedy assassination. Seamus O’Reilly, a NYPD homicide detective, gets a call in the middle of the night. There’s been a double murder outside a notorious gay night club. The victims? J. Edgar Hoover and his assistant Clyde Tolson. Assigned to the case as the FBI liaison is Frank Bryce. Bryce was once a rising star in the New York branch of the Bureau but lately his star is falling. This case is his chance to redeem himself.
Rusch uses historical and fictional characters to assemble her ensemble cast. She’s also done her research. The details she sprinkles throughout the story really helped bring the period alive for me. I was born a few years after the Kennedy assassination, but it has cast such a long shadow over our history that it brought back memories, often not more than impressions really, of how the country tried to come to grips with what happened in Dallas for years.
The story moves at a fast pace. Rusch switches between a number of viewpoint characters, which only gives the story a greater sense of urgency. This effect is the strongest in the rivalry between LBJ and RFK. Neither man is presented in what could be considered a flattering light. But both are fully realized, and to the best of my knowledge (limited, I admit), true to character.
The mystery of who killed Hoover isn’t the driving force of the story. In fact, it’s resolved fairly quickly. Or so it appears. The ending makes me think we haven’t seen everything that was happening behind the scenes. It also makes me think there may be a sequel. I hope so.
I finished the book in about three days, and the only reason it took that long was because real life wouldn’t let me just sit and read. In fact, I’d been reading two other books but didn’t have them with me when I started browsing the first chapter. I didn’t pick either of those books up until I finished The Enemy Within. This is one fans of political thrillers won’t want to miss.
The Enemy Within will be available on April 15.
I’d like to thank WMG Publishing for providing me with the review copy. It was in electronic format. As usual, the production values were top notch, an example of how to do an ebook right.