Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"Face of the Enemy"

Joanne Dobson is a former English professor, having taught for many years at Fordham University, also at Amherst College and at Tufts University. Beverle Graves Myers made a mid-life career switch from psychiatry to full-time writing. A graduate of the University of Louisville with a BA in History and an MD, she worked at a public mental health clinic before her first Tito Amato novel was published in 2004.

Myers applied the Page 69 Test to Face of the Enemy, their first novel in the New York in Wartime mystery series, and reported the following:
After the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor, Masako Fumi wears the enemy’s face. No matter that this talented, sensitive artist was raised in Paris and hasn’t set foot in Japan since she was a little girl. No matter that she considers herself as American as her Columbia professor husband who was born on a farm in Indiana. No matter that she is as horrified at the devastating attack as any of her friends and neighbors. When New Yorkers look into Masako’s beautiful, almond-eyed face, they see the enemy.

On page 69 of Face of the Enemy, homicide detective Michael McKenna is questioning an art gallery assistant about his boss’s murder. Desmond Cox discovered Arthur Shelton’s corpse artfully posed beneath Masako’s signature canvas, “Lion After the Kill.” Cox explains that Shelton was in process of dismantling Masako’s show. New York’s artsy crowd was willing to put down a lot of money for her paintings, but the gallery was catching flak from more conservative quarters, especially America First and other isolationist groups. A picket protest funded by an anonymous source was the last straw. Shelton had to act, despite Masako’s pleas to keep her paintings on his walls.

From page 69:
“So …” McKenna said, as he thumbed his jaw. “The toughs were scaring away trade. What’d your boss do?”

“Called the police. The desk sergeant at the Eighteenth Precinct said as long as the picketers weren’t accosting people, they were within their rights—freedom of expression. By Thursday noon, there were six of them, chanting. ‘No go Jap show, no go Jap show.’ A couple of passers-by joined in and a crowd began to gather. Arthur took the situation in hand …”
The picketers chant—NO GO JAP SHOW—pretty much sums up the thrust of the book. Two days after Arthur Shelton’s murder, the Japanese blew the U.S. Navy to smithereens and the FBI rounded up New York’s Japanese residents and detained them at Ellis Island. The G-men find Masako particularly suspicious because her father, whom she hasn’t seen in many years, is a high-ranking official in Emperor Hirohito’s government. Then there’s the fact that her apartment overlooks the shipping lanes of the Hudson River. Masako’s troubles multiply when she’s accused of Shelton’s murder. Can this gentle Japanese woman find justice when New York has become a cauldron of hate, dread, and racial paranoia?

Yeah, page 69 represents Face of the Enemy very well. I’m not sure I could find a more evocative page if I tried.
Learn more about Face of the Enemy at Joanne Dobson and Beverle Graves Myers's websites.

--Marshal Zeringue