He's Done Better

April Kidwell

2.5 Stars

October 5, 2012

I have to say, I wanted to like this book. I REALLY wanted to like this book.

I like the Al Lacy books I've read in the past. In addition, I am a fan of historical fiction, I am intrigued by the events involved with the costliest war in American history and I like a good "cloak and dagger" spy story.

However, this is not what I found in Beloved Enemy, written by acclaimed writer Al Lacy, cover art by the accomplished artist Phil Boatwright, a fellow Texan from Dallas.

The first thing that struck me was the cover art. I hate to speak ill of a fellow Texan, especially one from my neck of the woods, but the cover art appears far below the abilities of an artist such as Mr. Boatwright. I have seen examples of Mr. Boatwright's work, and he has the skill and ability to make a painted portrait come alive and look real. In contrast, the cover to this book seems as though it was hastily done, as if it were concept art rather than a polished final product. Additionally (and this is mostly my desire for detail, continuity and accuracy in fiction here), the portrait of Jenny Jordan on the cover does not match the description of her in the story.

Then we get into the story. I did not do exhaustive research as I'm sure Mr. Lacy did, so I must trust his facts, dates and historical accuracy. It is also reasonable to assume that there were Confederate spies in the government of the time, perhaps even as far up as President Lincoln's war cabinet.

However, despite the framework for a good story, the characters appear forced into the historical framework. The story reads as though Mr. Lacy were pressed for time and was fighting a deadline.

Have you ever pulled an all-nighter on a report, turned it in and then re-read it later only to realize that it was not your best work? That is the impression that this book gave me.

I enjoy Mr. Lacy's stories, but this one will not make my list of favorites.