The Real Enemy, by Kathy Herman (David C. Cook, 2009)
As the first female chief of police in the town of Sophie Trace, Brill Jessup expects to have to prove her worth. She doesn’t expect citizens to start disappearing before the paint is dry on her office walls. Now she’s dealing with a territorial sheriff , the FBI, and a panicky town council… not to mention the local superstitions.
It does keep her from having to spend much time with her husband, Kurt, but she knows it’s hard on their daughter, Emily.
Brill is understandably angry over her husband’s one night of infidelity. They’ve agreed to stay together for Emily, but Brill has no interest in rebuilding the marriage.
The novel opens with Brill on the defensive at work and bitter towards her husband—not a sympathetic heroine. She’s very good at her job (the nickname “Brill” is short for “brilliant”) but I found the strength of her anger kept me from really connecting. Kurt is almost too nice, on the other hand. His goal is to overcome the evil he’s caused with good. (The novel’s theme verse is Romans 12:21.)
Nine-year-old Emily (the older kids are away at university) is serious and well-spoken for her age, but there are children like that—and I think her parents’ struggle has matured her beyond her years.
I always enjoy Kathy Herman’s novels, for the suspense and for the relationships. She draws believable characters, and it was partly on the strength of this knowledge that I was comfortable sticking with Brill through the opening pages. I’m glad I did, because I really enjoyed the novel.
The Real Enemy is the first in Kathy Herman’s new Sophie Trace series, and I’m looking forward to reading book 2, The Last Word, and book 3, The Right Call. You can read the prologue and first chapter of The Real Enemy here, and learn more about Kathy here.