Thursday, May 07, 2009

book review: Face of Betrayal - A Triple Threat Novel by Lis Wiehl with April Henry

Title: Face of Betrayal
Lis Wiehl with April Henry
Thomas Nelson Publishers-Fiction (April 7 2009), Hardcover, 320 p.
ISBN-10: 1595547053

When Katie Converse, a 17-year-old Washington page home for a Portland Christmas, goes out on December 13th to walk the dog and never returns, the three members of the Triple Threat Club are naturals to get involved. Allison Pierce, a federal prosecutor earns her bread and butter prosecuting family law cases. Nicole (Nic) Hedges’ FBI experience investigating cyber crime against kids gets her posted to the Converse house to work with the distraught parents. Cassidy Shaw, Channel Four journalist, quickly discovers that the position next to her two sleuthing buddies is perfect for breaking new Converse case details nightly.

Katie’s MySpace blog, the philandering ways of her sponsor, Senator Fairview, anonymous threats from a sexual stalker, and a severed hand make for lots of intrigue, tension and red herrings in Face of Betrayal, a detective mystery by Lis Wiehl and April Henry.

Wiehl and Henry’s easy-to-read writing style is perfect for this fast-paced and intricate tale. The chapters, each of which is written from the point of view of one of the Triple Threat club members, are short with many a cliffhanger ending to keep the reader turning pages. Katie’s blog, a voice from where – maybe the grave? – gives the book a touch of modern realism and provides the reader with one more set of clues with which to try to solve the crime on his/her own. Of course the misty cold setting of Portland in the winter doesn’t hurt the story’s ambiance either.

The three strong women who reconnect at their 10-year high school reunion find they have a common interest in crime. Now they meet frequently for coffee or eats and we get to know them on many levels as they discuss life, love, faith and, of course the Converse case. Of the three, the authors give us the closest view of Allison, whose Christian worldview comes across clearly, although Nic and Cassidy are also satisfyingly complex and portrayed sympathetically. In this department, the characterization feels realistic when Nic doesn’t veer from her agnostic belief system, nor does Cassidy stray from her flavor-of-the-month spirituality.

On top of spinning a captivating story, peopled by interesting characters, Wiehl and Henry have managed to weave a variety of themes into their whodunit. Within the story we experience the lives of women making their way in male-dominated careers. Allison is concerned about coming across as seasoned and knowledgeable. Nic has to prove herself doubly – as a female and black FBI agent – while juggling her professional responsibilities with mothering Makayla. Cassidy’s concerns are more with how the HD cameras will accentuate her laugh lines and being big-footed out of the Converse story by superior Madeline McCormick should her sources dry up. Allison’s involvement with a safe house brings up the subject of abuse, especially as it occurs within families. Friendship is also a main theme as the three women are there for each other despite differences of personality and belief.

When asked why she turned to fiction writing after successfully authoring non-fiction, Wiehl said, “… I had an increasingly hard time finding stories I could relate to. And I wanted to read about strong women solving crimes. So, I thought, why not create my own mysteries… fiction stories with a slice of reality about how law and journalism really work.” Wiehl is knowledgeable on both counts, judging from her experience as a trial lawyer and legal analyst and reporter on the Fox News Channel. She has graduated from both the Harvard Law school and University of Queensland. Learn more about her and her books at Lis Wiehl.

April Henry has published seven young-adult mysteries. She blogs at So many books, so little time , and has her own MySpace blog as well.

Bill O’Reilly of Fox News blurbs Face of Betrayal “A blast to read.” I agree – and so do many others. The book sits at #34 on the New York Times bestseller list for May 10th. The hardback edition concludes with a short Reading Group Guide, the transcript of Wiehl’s interview with Bill O’Reilly, and (oh yummy!) the first two chapters of The Hand of Fate, the next Triple Threat novel, available April 2010.


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