Skip to main content

Enemy of the Good


Enemy of the Good

When bestselling author Michael Palmer passed away in 2013, he left behind a nice legacy. Two of his three sons, Daniel and Matthew, stepped into the same job as their father. While Daniel worked to finish and co-write some of Michael’s work, Matthew was blazing his own path. With 25 years spent in the U.S. Foreign Service, he turned that experience into a series of taut political thrillers.

ENEMY OF THE GOOD marks the fourth novel by Matthew and features unique heroine Katarina "Kate" Hollister. Kate is a second-generation Foreign Service Officer and begins the novel dealing with a hot situation in Havana, Cuba. However, things go bad for Kate in Cuba --- or perhaps events were set up to make her look bad. She was working at the Embassy's Human Rights Office and oversteps her boundaries in a way that was not pleasing to her unforgiving leaders in the U.S. government.

"ENEMY OF THE GOOD does not read like your typical thriller... Palmer is so tuned in to the modern political game in the Middle East that he deftly allows readers to peek behind the curtain and find out which wizard is really pulling the strings."

Before this, ENEMY OF THE GOOD kicks things off with activity 12 years in the past. Set in Bishkek circa 2004, a secret meeting is depicted involving several people meeting in a close, dank basement. The purpose of their meeting was part of a clandestine rebel group working against the autocratic Kyrgyz “President for Life,” Eraliev. One of the leaders of this secret meeting was a woman named Zamira, who just happened to be Kate's aunt.

Jumping back to modern times, we see Kate being redeployed to an area of the world with which she is quite familiar. Kyrgyzstan is where young Kate spent a good portion of her childhood, having grown up in a family of government servants. Her uncle is currently an ambassador there, and her past experience, as well as some of her personal ties, will be used to their fullest in this new assignment.

The fringe rebel group known as Boldu is what the U.S. government seeks to infiltrate. They claim it is in order to keep the peace in this volatile part of the Middle East, but Kate knows it is more than that. She reunites with an old friend named Valentina, who ends up being her entry into Boldu. Kate is not surprised to learn that the mysterious head of this group --- a man known on the street as Seitek --- is none other than her friend and former lover, Ruslan.

Kate's handlers are not happy with this, and immediately her loyalty is questioned up to the highest levels of government. Trust, communication and miscommunication play a big role in this sort of governmental and political chess game. There is even a reference to the famous Francis Ford Coppola film The Conversation, where a bit of misinformation from a taped meeting spins things wildly out of control.

Of course, Kate rekindles things with Ruslan, which Valentina urged her not to do. Kate not only feels protective of Ruslan and his group, but also believes it is her role to speak out against alleged and proven atrocities by the Kyrgyzstan government under the hand of Erliev. Kate has to play quite the balancing act, all the while striving to keep Ruslan from being identified as the rebel called Seitek. She finds that things in the U.S. are just as murky and dangerous as the underground Kyrgyz movement, and often wonders who in fact is calling the shots. She knows that Seitek needs to be eliminated to avoid shaking things up in the Kyrgyz government. But at what price?

ENEMY OF THE GOOD does not read like your typical thriller, and the action is limited. This is because Matthew Palmer is so tuned in to the modern political game in the Middle East that he deftly allows readers to peek behind the curtain and find out which wizard is really pulling the strings.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on June 2, 2017

Enemy of the Good
by Matthew Palmer

  • Publication Date: May 23, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0399175024
  • ISBN-13: 9780399175022