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Beloved Enemy
by Eric Van Lustbader
Tom Doherty/Forge, $25.99, 368pp
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
This is the latest installment in Lustbader’s ongoing series featuring the character of Jack McClure. He is James Bond meets Jack Bauer. Jack has an extraordinary ability that gives him an edge as an undercover agent, he can visualize in three dimensions. But he is handicapped by a deep and abiding love for a possible terrorist.

As the story starts, Jack is meeting with his friend, Dennis, who is the Secretary of Homeland Security. Dennis is convinced there is a highly-placed mole in the US government and he has a contact who will verify it. But when Dennis is murdered and Jack framed for it; Jack has to go on the run to find the mole before either his own government or The Syrian find him and kill him. The Syrian is the worst terrorist either Dennis or Jack have ever encountered and before all is said and done, Jack will have to confront him. But confronting The Syrian means seeing his old lover again, Annika, who is now The Syrian’s lover. But Annika may not be all she seems and her agenda is so convoluted and unknown, it’s possible neither Jack nor The Syrian ever really knew her.

I haven’t read Lustbader before so I’m unfamiliar with the recurring characters. I can say this story pretty much stands on its own. The author is skilled enough to provide sufficient backstory to keep me up. But I have to say that I found the beginning of the story slightly stilted. I think the author was depending on the reader being familiar with the characters so that he didn’t have to provide much depth or insight. The plot was very convoluted and there were times I was a bit lost but he did manage to pull everything together at the end so that was made clear. I also felt a bit lost as character viewpoints shifted; perhaps that was also because the characters were not near and dear to me. So, now that I look at it from that perspective, perhaps the story doesn’t stand alone as securely as I initially thought. But I’ll bet fans of Jack McClure will thoroughly enjoy this one. ~~ Catherine Book

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