Book Review: The Enemy Inside by Vanessa Skye

“While exploring darkness in others, be careful not to expose your own.

That's what Chicago detective Alicia Raymond discovers when she's assigned to investigate the gruesome torture and murder of a middle-aged trucker with a horrible secret.

Before she can get a lead on one crime, however, the bodies start piling up and Alicia, better known as Berg, finds herself the unexpected target of the very same legal system she has dedicated her life to.

While simultaneously under attack from a formidable past, an enemy that seems to know too much, and a conniving killer, Berg is forced to confront her own darkness: her obsessive need to track down killers at the expense of everything else in her life; her increasing craving for violence just to feel normal; and her potentially devastating feelings for her partner, the charming and handsome Detective Inspector Jay O’Loughlin.

The more Berg works her original case, the more she learns about the sheer viciousness of the trucker’s past, and the more she questions if his murderer should even be punished by a justice system that only seems determined to free the guilty. When she also finds herself sympathizing with a sadistic butcher exacting revenge for a decades-old crime, she realizes the most dangerous secret of all might just be her own state of mind.

While Berg struggles with her morality, a killer is determined to recruit her and use her for a devastating end game.

As Berg’s carefully constructed life falls apart and she struggles to maintain a grip on reality, she faces a choice: surrender to the evil inside or finally acknowledge the brutal past she would rather bury.

The Enemy Inside is the first in the Edge of Darkness series, which challenges the concept of justice, asks if vengeance sometimes justifies murder, and explores whether you can ever heal from a broken past.”

A respected detective with the Chicago Police Department’s Special Crimes Unit, Berg, formally known as Detective Alicia Raymond and partner, the irrepressible womaniser, Jay O’Loughlin, are assigned to investigate the murder of a truck driver. As the gruesome remains of dead truckies begin to mount, the pieces start to fall into place and it becomes clear that the deaths are related to a case they have been working on involving a string of missing women.

Personally though, Berg isn’t doing so well – she often feels as though she is losing control of her life. She is still hurting and vulnerable from a childhood, the likes of which many of us may not know and the only thing that appears to keep her going is her gorgeous canine friend Jesse and the shameful secret she keeps - until Jay accidentally stumbles upon it.

As he tries to break though the walls she has built up around her, she slowly allows them to crumble. It is when he puts his life on the line to try and catch the killer that both these flawed characters will need to finally answer some burning questions held deep within.

I have been reviewing books now for about two years and am still astounded at the amount of talent there is amongst our Australian authors which I always go out of my way to promote. In saying this, Australian crime author, Vanessa Skye, is yet another to add to my growing list of must-read authors as I was blown away by her writing.

Published in August 2013, The Enemy Inside is Vanessa’s debut novel and the first in the promising Edge of Darkness crime series featuring her strong female antihero, Detective Berg (otherwise known as Alicia Raymond) and I was so drawn into the story that, if I didn’t need sleep in order to function properly the next day, I probably would have read straight through the night.

Vanessa’s character development is impeccable and I found myself rooting for the emotionally battered Berg as well as becoming just a little infatuated with the sexy and compassionate character of Jay O’Loughlin as they raced against time to catch a killer. Their characterisation is both deep and rich and their personal lives are balanced perfectly with the demands of the case, introducing many different themes, which I won’t  go into so as not to give anything away.

The atmosphere and emotion add to the richness of the landscape that these characters live in and Vanessa keeps the suspense tight, revealing nothing until she absolutely wants to, so much so that I was left second-guessing myself as to the identity of the killer as Berg struggled to keep her own demons at bay.

It’s also clear that Vanessa has done a lot of research into the workings of crime scenes, forensics, the roles of detectives and the police departments in which they work and I found myself totally absorbed in the world that Berg and Jay inhabit.

This is an entertaining and thrilling work of fiction with Vanessa keeping her storyline original and stitching up her narrative structure perfectly. So, if you enjoy a riveting police investigation with plenty of suspense and a memorable cast of characters to keep the pages turning, whilst on a deeper level giving insight into the many aspects of human nature as well as the world around us, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to you. Ultimately, it’s a story about conquering your own worst enemy – yourself!

I can’t wait to see what Vanessa has in store for Berg and Jay in the second in the series, Broken.

I wish to thank  The Writer’s Coffee Shop as well as Vanessa for providing me with a copy of this debut for review.

A Little About the Author

Vanessa Skye has always had a love of words and spent her school years writing poetry, speeches, and fictional essays.

After completing a Bachelor of Arts in Print Journalism and studying Psychology at Charles Sturt University, Vanessa got a job at Rural Press—Australia's largest publisher of regional and agricultural news and information—where she worked as a journalist in the Central West of NSW for four years.

Thousands of stories later, Vanessa decided to move back to Sydney and try her hand at public relations while studying a Master of Arts in Communication.
Skip forward a few years and Vanessa once again found herself joyfully studying various psychology subjects while managing a Sydney public relations firm. Enthralled with examining the motivations behind people's actions, Vanessa realised what she really wanted to do in life was combine her love of words with her fascination for human behaviour.

So Vanessa quit public relations to begin the significantly more impoverished life of a professional writer.

Inspired by a recurring dream, Vanessa wrote her crime fiction debut, The Enemy Inside, which challenges the concept of justice, asks if the need for vengeance sometimes justifies murder, and explores whether you can ever heal from childhood abuse. The second book in this series, Broken, was released in 2014 and the third, Bloodlines, in January 2015.

In her spare time, Vanessa wrote a short story, The Piece, which was published in February 2012 by Dark Prints Press as a part of the One That Got Away dark fiction anthology.

Vanessa now works as a freelance writer, lives in Sydney’s northern beaches, and tries to immerse herself in salt water at least once a day.


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