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The Best of Enemies

by Taylor Smith

Former Canadian diplomat Taylor Smith spent 12 years working with foreign intelligence agencies before she began writing. Inspired by her own observations of the machinations of the CIA and Britain’s MI-6, her thrillers cry out for comparison with Tom Clancy’s work.

But Smith is no Tom Clancy. Her third novel to date, The Best of Enemies, is formulaic at best. A bomb destroys a high-tech company outside of Boston. Holly Stroud, the daughter of the American ambassador to Israel, is traced to the scene of the crime and then disappears. Her English literature professor and our heroine, Leya Nash (who happens to be the daughter of a retired CIA agent), believes Holly is innocent. To save her student, Leya must come to terms with a ghost from her own past.

The story contains all the requisite elements a reader might expect from a thriller – bombs, CIA, FBI, terrorists – everything except the unexpected. The reader can see the plot unfolding long before the author reveals the events: the two people implicated in, and later cleared of responsibility for, the bombing are never really suspect in the reader’s mind.

Plot is almost everything in a Tom Clancy thriller. But in Smith’s thriller, plot takes a backseat to a study of the human condition. Best of Enemies is more about intolerance and its dire consequences, whether that intolerance is bred by the CIA, FBI, Middle Eastern terrorists, or even a father or a lover, than it is about a deep, dark conspiracy.

Fortunately, Smith’s multi-layered characters save this thriller from total incredibility. The FBI aren’t white knights in shining armour; they are flawed people who must come to terms with their own prejudices in order to get at the truth. When they don’t, their investigation founders. By including vivid details of our heroes’ daily lives, Smith reminds us that nobody’s life stops for the investigation. But in the end, trivial details overshadow life-threatening, death-defying adventure, and Leya spends more time renovating her house than she does trailing terrorists.


Reviewer: Sasha Chapman

Publisher: Mira


Price: $6.99

Page Count: 480 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 1-55166-277-9

Released: June

Issue Date: 1997-5

Categories: Fiction: Novels