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Enemy Mind by Maggie Shayne
(Silhouette, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-61368-7
****
If ever there was a book that was hard to classify, this is it. If ever there was a book that was hard to rate, this is it. Enemy Mind is a combination suspense thriller and romance set in today’s world with a little bit of science fiction thrown in. It is also the first part of a five part series called Family Secrets. What keeps it from keeper status is that the book feels unfinished; there are secrets left to uncover, hence it feels like I have only read half the book. The romance, while very good, is just a small part of the story.

The general layout is given in the cast of characters and explains the series. Thirty years ago, a couple, described as the “evil duo”, helped to genetically engineer a group of children called the Extraordinary Five. One of those five is Jake Ingram. Jake was adopted at age 12 and remembers little of the early years of his life. He was adopted by the Ingrams and grew to be very close with his brother Zach, who happens to look very much like him, almost like a twin. Enemy Mind is Zach’s love story.

Zach is an economics professor at Glenlaurel College. He is generally living a nice, quiet, boring life. One afternoon when leaving the college, he is kidnapped and taken to a far away ranch house, where he is drugged and tortured for information because the kidnappers - those two evil people and their henchmen - believe he is Jake.

The evil ones, whose names are Agnes and Oliver, hire an expert psychiatrist in the realm of mind control and de-programming. Her name is Dr. Maisy Dalton. Maisy has a past, too. She was married to another psychiatrist and lived a secure, happy existence without passion or excitement. Then one day, her husband informed her he had a passionate affair with a patient, and this patient was not willing to break things off. Maisy convinced him he had to do that and when he tried, the patient killed both herself and the husband. Now Maisy has isolated herself from patients, finding it easier to consult rather than be actively involved in life.

She comes to an isolated farmhouse to see a patient that has been described as a man of thirty five that has been brainwashed by a cult, and whose lovely little old mother wants to help get his memory back. Her intent is to visit him and recommend a better doctor who can help. But once there, she finds she cannot leave. She also realizes that Zach is not what the woman claimed he was.

Now Maisy and Zach are caught up in a sinister plot and must find a way to save themselves. It is a taut, unique and exciting story. There is a little of everything. The torture scene is explicit and uncomfortable. The deadly scenarios they are confronted with are realistic and scary. Maisy is confronted with possible rape. They are held at gunpoint and only quick thinking saves them. This is not your normal fun loving romance. It is however, a book that is so compelling it is difficult to put down.

Which then brings us to the hard part - what is this story really about? The storyline is hinted at, tantalizing to whet one’s curiosity. But there is no answer in this book. In fact, other than that hint in the description of the characters, I still don’t know what these children are or who Jake really is or why there is such a need for the kidnapping of Zach whom they thought was Jake. Especially since there is a secondary thread where Jake is receiving little notes hinting that he is not who he believes he is.

The threat to Maisy and Zach is real, however, and thus carries the plot of the book. The romance that develops from their forced intimacy and the feelings they feel are believable. As we get to know these two, Maisy becomes a strong woman who will risk herself for a person and Zach becomes a man who one can admire and like. Their romance is satisfying.

Enemy Mind is such a well written book, I cannot resist the urge to recommend it. At the same time, I want to say it is so good, I will keep it on my shelves. I will also have to seek the second book of the series to see if it is as good and if it provides any answers to the many questions left by this one. And without those answers, this book won’t stand up to a second reading very well. Bottom line then: Read this book, but be prepared to follow the whole series if you do.

--Shirley Lyons


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