Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Book Review: The Enemy We Don't Know by Liz Milliron (Homefront Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong main character, interesting historical mystery
Cons: Pacing, some supporting characters need more development
The Bottom Line:
Sabotage at plant
Betty jumps in to solve it
Historic debut

The Enemy at Home

One period of history that has always interested me is World War II.  As soon as I heard about Liz Milliron’s Homefront Mysteries I knew I had to give them a try, and I’m glad I picked the first book up, The Enemy We Don’t Know.

This book takes us to Buffalo, New York in November of 1942.  It focuses on Betty Ahern.  With her brother and fiancĂ© fighting the war overseas, she is doing what she can at home.  Specifically, she is working for Bell Aircraft on the airplanes that will be used in the war effort.

However, not everything is going well at Bell.  Someone is out to sabotage the plant.  Betty is a fan of mystery movies, especially Sam Spade.  Having had some success solving a murder just the month before, she begins to try to solve the case.  But when a dead body turns up, is she in over her head?

A quick note about that previous murder Betty has solved.  The character was actually first introduced in a short story that was part of the Mystery Most Historical anthology.  While I have that anthology, I haven’t read it or this story yet.  There are several references to the events of that story, but nothing that would constitute a spoiler.  If, like me, you start here, you’ll be fine.

When we study wars, we usually focus on battles and troop movements and the leaders of the countries involved.  Rarely do we look at the people left behind.  I appreciated that about this book.  Yes, it is a mystery, but it is a mystery that couldn’t take place any other time.

Why do I say that?  The motives and suspects that Betty uncovers are definitely a product of their time.  I appreciated that as I read the book.  The pacing was a bit uneven, but for the most part this book held my interest as Betty went about trying to figuring out what was happening at her job before the factor was completely shut down.  Along the way, we get a good picture of what life was like at home during this period of time.  Everything leads up to a great climax.

The characters are also interesting.  Betty, as our main character, comes fully to life.  Her friends and co-workers are just as real.  We see glimpses of more to her family, and I hope they are further developed in later books in the series.

The Enemy We Don’t Know is a promising debut.  I’m looking forward to seeing what else can happen to Betty during the days of World War II.  If you are interested in what was happening here at home during the time, this is a debut you need to check out.

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