Enemy Within


Trust No One

Blind Faith by Christiane Heggan
(Mira, $6.50, PG) ISBN 1-55166-783-5
Kelly Robolo is a featured newspaper investigative reporter with the Philadelphia Globe. Her investigation of an extortion racket in Chinatown had resulted in the death of an undercover cop and in her own wounding. Kelly was labeled as being over-zealous and responsible for the death of a dedicated police officer, as a result, is being harassed and her property vandalized. She is just now recovering from her injuries.

Her good friend Victoria Bowman calls. Her husband Jonathan has disappeared. He seems to have boarded a flight to Miami for business reasons, but heíd called in sick for work that morning. His boss, the owner of an Atlantic City casino, is equally mystified as to his whereabouts. Jonathan is a devoted husband and father to their young daughter, and his sudden disappearance is completely out of character. Victoria implores Kelly to help her find Jonathan.

Miami police report a bombing at a hotel where Jonathan was registered; it appears that Jonathan was killed. Kelly realizes that she needs assistance from the Philadelphia police and reluctantly turns to Nick McBride. She had last seen Nick in her hospital room where he had condemned her for the death of his good friend. He doesnít want to help her, but his suspicions are aroused. His own father had worked as the head of security for the same Atlantic City casino. Nick has doubted the official cause of his fatherís death, and now a second high-level employee has been killed. Inevitably, heís drawn into the investigation, and the two of them will soon be thrown into each otherís company as they probe the layers of deception.

Readers who have discovered the terrific mysteries of best-selling author Lisa Scottoline cannot fail to notice some distinct similarities between her books and Blind Faith - Italian-American heroine, solid grounding in the Philadelphia setting. Itís an unfortunate resemblance because Blind Faith doesnít equal the Scottoline books from a put-down-pick-up standpoint.

Perhaps the strongest element in Blind Faith is the successful use of setting. The mystery plot is acceptably complex, but itís frequently side-railed as Kelly takes care of other business such as eating at her mother=s Italian restaurant. The romance aspect is very low-key. Kelly and Nick are a generic couple - you know theyíre going to end up together because theyíre the hero and heroine and thatís what the hero and heroine of a romantic suspense novel do - but thereís no strong spark between them, no physical and emotional irresistible attraction, no sense that destiny demands they be together.

More successful is the strong impression of the ambience of Philadelphia - particularly the Italian section of South Philly. (It does, however, seem a bit odd for the proudly ethnic Robolos to have named their daughter Kelly!) The author is plainly familiar with the streets and neighborhoods of Philadelphia. Readers who are similarly acquainted with the area will have no difficulty orienting themselves as Kelly drives around the city.

Blind Faith falls into that acceptable territory between a recommended book and a disappointing one. It=s not a bad book - just not a very gripping or memorable one.

--Lesley Dunlap

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