Title: Secret State: Enemy
Author: Ripley Hayes
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 229 Pages
Rating: 4 Stars
At a Glance: Full of twists, turns, and danger, Ripley Hayes delivers yet more romantic suspense set against a deadly criminal investigation.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Paul needs to work out who’s trying to kill him…if only they’d stop for long enough to let him.
Paul Qayf. Secret Service agent. Reckless. Flamboyant. Dangerous.
John Bean. Copper. Steady. Small town. Determined.
Everything that Paul Qayf isn’t.
‘Distrust’ doesn’t even come close.
Qayf’s job is simple. Stop a smuggling gang operating in the desolate, Dickensian marshes to the east of London. And he can’t do it alone. He needs help. Help from a small town, small time cop he doesn’t even like.
But the only way to stop the gang is to work together.
Two very different men. Playing by very different rules. But with one thing in common…
Review: Anyone who’s read a Ripley Hayes mystery will attest to the fact that hers are among some of the most complex, and are often filled with skillful twists and shrewd surprises. Secret State: Enemy is yet another. This book is peripherally tied to the Daniel Owen Welsh Mysteries by virtue of Paul Qayf being Mal Kent’s ex. The trouble Paul finds himself in, however, has nothing to do with Mal and everything to do with him getting too close to the truth of a smuggling ring and who’s running it.
Family ties are an inescapable complication in the story, as is the fact that Paul’s life is endangered at nearly every step of his investigation. It also wouldn’t be a Ripley Hayes novel if the setting didn’t complement the story and influence it in ways big or small. The ebb and flow of the tides as well as the smugglers protecting their own up the atmosphere of secrecy and menace.
Acting DCI John Bean is Paul’s opposite in nearly every way, from his suits to his boots to his by-the-book rules. To say Paul has little regard for the man—Paul is done with cops—is not an understatement. John doesn’t think much of Paul’s evidence gathering skills either. But what would a Romantic Suspense be without that kind of friction to build on? Hayes builds on it beautifully.
There is black and white in this investigation, and there is also a gray area in which Paul makes a dubious decision that holds a mirror up to his job and the tenuous position he’s in with his boss. He makes no secrets about being a bit of a loose cannon who does things his way. Whether it was right or wrong isn’t the question as much as it was Paul having his reasons. Whether there will be a sequel to Secret State: Enemy isn’t clear, but for those who appreciate it, things do end in a happy-for-now way. I would, without hesitation, read more.
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