FACING THE ENEMY
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Date of Publication: September 5, 2023
Number of Pages: 310 pages
When the long-awaited reunion between Risa and her brother, Trenton, ends in tragedy, Risa is riddled with guilt, unable to cope with the responsibility she feels over his death. On leave from the FBI, Risa returns to her former career as an English teacher at a local college, only to see her past and present collide when one of her students, Carson Mercury, turns in an assignment that reads like an eyewitness account of her brother’s murder, with details never revealed publicly.
Alarmed by Carson’s inside knowledge of Trenton’s death, Risa reaches out to her former partner at the FBI. Special Agent Gage Patterson has been working a string of baby kidnappings, but he agrees to help look into Carson’s background. Risa and Gage soon discover their cases might be connected as a string of high-value thefts have occurred at properties where security systems were installed by Carson’s stepfather and children have gone missing. There’s a far more sinister plot at play than they ever imagined, and innocent lives are in danger.
Clueless Gent’s Rating for Facing the Enemy
Whenever I read a story by author DiAnn Mills, I have come to expect an engrossing and well-developed storyline, and Facing the Enemy brilliantly achieved that. I continue to be amazed at just how much “good stuff” Mills can squeeze into a single story. She mastered her craft.
Facing the Enemy is set in present day Houston, Texas. It follows the lives of partnered FBI Special Agents Risa Jacobs and Gage Patterson. They work in the Violent Crimes Against Children Division of the Houston FBI. As Risa and her younger brother are crossing a street, a car speeds toward them and results in the grisly death of her brother. Risa later learns that the driver meant to kill her and not her brother. This sets Risa off; she leaves the FBI and sets out on a path of vengeance. She enlists the help of her former partner, Gage, who then splits his time between Risa’s mission and the FBI case he’s working with a new partner, relating to an illegal adoption ring who is stealing babies. Eventually, Risa and Gage realize the two cases could be related.
That synopsis was a mouthful, but the storyline is quite complex. It’s quite the feat, in my opinion, for an author to deliver such a complex plot, while not losing the reader, yet keeping everything moving along with a reasonable pace. DiAnn Mills handled it all quite well.
“Life ticked by like a metronome, marking the beats of each breath. When our song finished and we breathed our last, our lives slipped into eternity.”
The entire story is written in the first person narrative, but the POV changes periodically between Risa and Gage. That is usually a fabulous way of telling a story, but on my NetGalley, there were formatting issues that ran paragraphs together, and that made it hard to tell who was speaking. I imagine that will be remedied in any final copies.
Risa and Gage are endearing characters, with Risa being the big risk taker and Gage intent on keeping her in check. There is a love relationship that blooms throughout the story. I do wish there was a little more backstory on how that began because there are times when Risa and Gage do or say things, with respect to their relationship, that to me seemed a bit out of character. But the character arcs are very good, and Risa’s arc would probably be somewhat jagged if drawn on paper. That’s not a bad thing.
“Someone once said truth was often an opinion, but no one could argue with facts. I needed facts to see the real truth. But I needed truth to show me the way.”
—FBI Special Agent Risa Jacobs
Mills has a wonderful way with description. Sometimes she’ll describe something, and it’s so perfect I can’t believe I never read it before. For example; “His words warmed me like a quilt on a chilly night.” Another perfect phrase: “My eyes pooled with liquid regret.” There are quite a number of those “perfect phrases” in this particular story. I enjoyed every one of them.
The pacing, to me, was a little awkward at first, but it got on track quickly, and after that happened I couldn’t put it down. I love the way this author leads up to a climax. Every sentence seems to be strategically placed so engagement is increased with each turned page. I can’t give you an example of that without spoilers, so you’ll just have to read it yourself.
There’s a lot to enjoy in this story, and I highly recommend it!
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