Trust No One

Enemy Within by Christiane Heggan
(Mira, $5.99, PG) ISBN 1-55166-577-8
In the wine valley of California, the Spaulding wine empire is controlled and run by matriarch Hannah Spaulding. Hannah is the grandmother of Annie and Rachel, whose parents were killed in an accident. Annie’s role in the winery business is marketing. In her personal life, she has had four unsuccessful marriages and is the mother of a teenage daughter, Courtney.

Her sister, Rachel, is the steady one who operates the winery under the tutelage of Hannah. Rachel understands the business and relates to Courtney better than Annie does. Rachel has recently become engaged to Preston, the kind of suave sophisticated, self- important attorney who makes it so easy for the world to hate attorneys. There are many factors that operate to divide Annie and Rachel, but the most poignant one is that Rachel was adopted, while Annie was the natural child of Rachel’s adoptive parents.

While Rachel is in France with Courtney saving an account that was in jeopardy because of Annie’s big mouth, Hannah has a heart attack and dies. Before she dies, Hannah extracts a promise from Annie that she will tell Rachel that her natural mother is indeed alive and how to start the search.

The will is read and the Spaulding Winery is left to Rachel, a Spaulding by adoption. However, the property will revert to Annie, if Rachel were to bring disgrace upon the business. Annie, slighted by a one million dollar devise, schemes to make that happen.

During one of her marriages Annie had come into contact with Gary Shaw, P.I., the estranged son of a famous trial lawyer. He is now doing lucrative corporate work but succumbs to Annie’s pleas to help her find Rachel’s missing mother. Of course Annie doesn’t tell him who the missing person truly is.

The prologue has already alerted the reader that someone very malevolent and powerful is still searching for a woman, and the infant who disappeared with her, some thirty-one years prior. Why is someone so evil connected to Rachel and her mother? That is the genesis of the plot. The unraveling of events long past is the solution.

This novel moves quickly with characters that are many faceted. Heggan demonstrates a remarkable understanding of human nature by fashioning them realistically. Just when one thinks that they have defined the nature of the player, she clears the focus and another feature is found.

Enemy Within is doing so many things in 400 pages that it is not surprising Rachel’s romance with Gary Shaw suffers, from lack of space if nothing else. We expect Annie’s relationships to be shallow, so that is not a loss. Unexpectedly, the young teenager Courtney is vibrantly drawn and her role amounts to far more than simply being a pawn in a sibling rivalry.

This book is a strong recommend. Taken singly, you have probably been exposed to every strand of this plot in a different novel. However, there are rarely so many different threads to the fabric as in Enemy Within, and they are woven together imaginatively and with ingenuity. The characters are vividly drawn, and the machinations of the evildoers are beautifully channeled into a very complex but logical plot. One reading caveat: do not make the mistake of thinking that there is only one “Enemy Within.” In this respect the author is immensely clever.

--Thea Davis

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