The Enemy at Home by Kevin O’Brien
Historical Fiction | Mystery | WWII
With her husband stationed in North Africa, Nora gets a job as a riveter at the Seattle Boeing plant. In the middle of a world war, her country desperately needs Nora’s help — but not everyone is happy about a woman taking over another “man’s job.” In a terrifying pattern, women war-plant workers like Nora are being targeted and ritualistically murdered. And Nora’s fears only grow as she begins to wonder if she and the killer are somehow connected…
WWII books set on the US homefront always hold a particular fascination for me, and this book was no exception. There were a lot of historical references and facts throughout the novel (and I love it when books drive me to do further research on my own.) This made for a compelling and believable setting and immediately transported me to Seattle in the 1940s.
While some of the opening dialogue felt info-heavy and took me out of the book, once the story got going, I was fully immersed. I also really enjoyed the characters. Nora is a housewife who decides to do her part for her country and gets a job working at an assembly line creating airplane parts. But add in a home that’s been vandalized, a local murder, and a teenage son who’s clearly hiding something, and Nora begins to worry about whether or not her new job means she’s neglecting her children. This balance between mystery, and the everyday domestic struggles of wives juggling children, rationing, new jobs, safety and security during blackouts, worrying about family members overseas, etc, made for an equally exciting and realistic read.
The “Rosie Ripper” aspect felt obvious at the beginning but O’Brien certainly threw me for a loop as the story continued, and had me second-guessing until the end. I also questioned whether or not the decisions in the final few chapters felt authentic to the characters, but ultimately, I was satisfied with the way everything was wrapped up.
The Enemy at Home is a brilliant blend of historical fiction and mystery. With plenty of twists, murders, and suspicious characters this book is an intriguing whodunnit, combined with the complex and heartfelt emotions and dynamics of a family in the midst of war. For those interested in domestic, historical fiction with a strong dose of mystery and suspense, I certainly recommend checking out this new release!
Fans of historical mysteries with unlikely detectives, and heartfelt family dynamics
This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Advance copy of the book provided courtesy of the publisher, Kensington Books and Penguin Random Canada. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the book:
(From the publisher) A serial killer preys on women in WWII-era Seattle in the New York Times bestselling author’s gripping new thriller—a blend of vivid, richly detailed historical fiction and taut suspense.
1943, Seattle. While raging war reshapes the landscape of Europe, its impact is felt thousands of miles away too. Before the war, Nora Kinney was one of countless housewives and mothers in her comfortable Capitol Hill neighborhood. Now, with her doctor husband stationed in North Africa, Nora feels compelled to do more than tend her victory garden or help with scrap metal drives . . .
At the Boeing B-17 plant, Nora learns to wield a heavy riveting gun amid the deafening noise of the assembly line—a real-life counterpart to “Rosie the Riveter” in the recruitment posters. Yet while the country desperately needs their help, not everyone is happy about “all these women” taking over men’s jobs. Nora worries that she is neglecting her children, especially her withdrawn teenage son. But amid this turmoil, a sinister tragedy occurs: One of Nora’s coworkers is found strangled in her apartment, dressed in an apron, with a lipstick smile smeared on her face.
It’s the beginning of a terrifying pattern, as women war-plant workers like Nora are targeted throughout Seattle and murdered in the same ritualistic manner. And eclipsing Nora’s fear for her safety is her secret, growing conviction that she and the killer are connected—and that the haven that was her home has become her own personal battlefield . . .