Enemy in the House

When I finished The Woman in Black last weekend, I was so spooked I needed to start a different book relatively soon after. Of course, I should know by now that anything with suspense is hard for me to put down. I wanted a mystery, however, and grabbed a Mignon Eberhart at random. Enemy in the House turned out to be right up my alley.

When the book begins, Amity Mallon is in a tight situation. Her Loyalist father escaped to Jamaica from growing pressure in America earlier in the year, leaving Amity responsible for his beautiful second wife China and young son Jamey. Amity is his sole heir, and fears for the family’s welfare if the Continental Army confiscates their home. In addition, her aunt, uncle, and foppish cousin Neville have moved in, ostensibly to protect them. Amity fears in her heart that her father is dead, and knows that marrying a rebel just might save the property.

Her distant cousin Simon is an officer in the American Army, and out of loyalty to her father he agrees to a secret businesslike marriage. The next day she departs for Jamaica to determine the truth. The rest of the family follows her, however, with the disturbing news that both the lawyer and priest who married her have been killed. Meanwhile, her Uncle Groppit seems determined to get his hands on the Jamaica property however possible. It isn’t long before another death occurs. Amity must fight to protect not only her marriage, but also her life.

The historical setting was the perfect context for this mystery. As a female heir Amity is treated like a pawn, and must fight to provide for herself and her brother. She risks losing her South Carolina home because her father was a Loyalist and the Jamaican sugar plantation because her husband is a rebel. I don’t think I realized that Jamaica was a British colony at the time. (I should have; it’s mentioned in 1776). In addition, Mignon Eberhart introduces the tension between Amity’s relatives and the Jamaicans who work on the plantation, especially the regal obeah woman Selene.

The plot is somewhat complicated (I had a hard time summarizing), but she handles it deftly. Though similar to some by Phyllis Whitney, it felt much less predictable. I was turning pages eagerly to see what happened next. I’d have to rank this as one of my favorite Mignon Eberhart books so far.

Published in: on January 29, 2011 at 3:55 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. […] my favorites date from the first half of her career, like The Dark Garden and Wings of Fear and Enemy in the House, and Unidentified Woman is also from that era. I wouldn’t call it a favorite, but still a […]

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