Enemy of the Good: Matthew Palmer
Within this world there are several regimes that believe that dealing with dissidents, opposing groups and varied opinions need to be silenced. President for Life, Nurlan Eraliev is one such oppressive ruler. Anyone that opposes his will, speaks out against what he is doing is taken away, placed in a prison cell and then to the torturous PIT! When Kate Hollister, a Foreign Service human rights officer, completes a mission in Cuba but not to the satisfaction of her superiors, she is sent to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s capital where her parents were murdered by orders given by the President for Life. Knowing the language is a plus in her favor, speaking it even more. Familiar with the culture, customs and the area she has been sent there to work as part of the team led by her Uncle Harry the U.S. Ambassador. A dissident group called Boldu, considered revolutionary is behind the uprising within this country and wanting to meet its leader her mission. Learning the whereabouts of an old high school classmate, finding her brother in a hospital facility leads her to her old friend. But, that’s just the start as we hear the voice of Ruslan the leader of this group and we learn of his anger at one of his members being taken in by the police saving his life as a result. Sacrifices are made say some of the members of Boldu but he is determined to save her from a torturous fate. Kate meets with her friend and she hopes to enlist her to help this secret underground group or movement while dealing with the autocratic leader of this country, the red tape and unaccepted presence of her superiors and now being tasked to do something that could cost her more than she might be willing to give. The members of the CIA resent her being there and she gets no special treatment. Diplomatic courtesies do not apply to her and when dealing with her friend Valentina and asked to put her life on the line by taking a specific paper, finding the seal of the President and placing the seal on this paper which would authorize the prison staff to transfer the member of the group to a different prison and possibly breaking in to get her out. Diplomatic work can be boring but what Kate is about to embark on might cost many lives and any hope of dealing with the President. Speaking fluent Kyrgyz is a plus and the ties that she has to the people there and the fact that her parents were killed there makes what she is about to do even more important to her. Hating Nuran Eraliev for having her parents killed, fuels her anger and her passion to take him down. Seitek is the head of Boldu and learning his real identity and meeting him her goal. Making sure that he learns that the US can assist and aide in his cause will provide many obstacles for her. Her parents were killed and her mother’s sister disappears and her anger rises when she thinks about this. How is she going to infiltrate Prison Number One for the answers she needs to free this member of Boldu, escape before she is sent to the Pit and meets Torquemada the torturer? CIA Station Chief Larry Crespo is her superior and every step of the way he blocks her and any help denied. Things take a different turn when Ruslon finds a way to attack the prison convoy and then realizes that Bermet the woman he wants freed is not in the truck. Using his ingenuity and taking the driver prisoner, he manages to find a way to get him to contact the helicopter she is on hoping to save her from death. But, Kate is not sure is they made it or even if he is alive and going to Crespo goes against her grain but he’s not in favor of her or anything she does and lets her know it when breaking the rules and accusing her of every principle of diplomatic practice broken. But, Eraliev and his minions are in control of this government and when Kate Hollister decides to take him on will she survive the fallout or what she is about to embark on? With Eraliev’s main objective to negotiate with us on the lease of an airbase giving us a stronger hold in Central Asia and tip the balance of scales in our favor when dealing with Russia, China and our influence in this region hoping the competition tips the scales our way. Hearing the meeting that Kate was allowed to attend, learning that numbers an figures needed to be revised the negotiations were as fragile as the outer shell of an uncooked egg and the controversy surrounding them due to the fact that the country’s treatment of people is poor and their human rights record abysmal. Kate I about to be told to become part of this underground movement hoping for democracy that has been going against Kyrgyz security service and anyone supporting the regime by sabotaging all efforts. Kate role so far has been to meet with Valentina, getting the seal, hoping to meet the leader of Boldu and next Washington’s support but will they take more of an interest? Is this just a symbol mission to her or will she speak out and fight for what is right? When a group of women called Women In Black invite her to come to a demonstration, when happens will shock and appall readers as the police force goes after these fragile women, beats them and takes them into custody while they attack Kate, take her cameral and she barely makes it out. Writing her account of the incident draws attention from attaché Brass he is anything but receptive to her and practically threatens her if she opens any more cans of worms or goes against protocol.
Kate is summoned to meet Ruslan and is surprised to see several other members of her high school they’re working along side of Ruslan. Valentina Aitmatova is in the position of leadership and is close to Ruslan. Bermet, is close to Seitek and was arrested in his place so the bold plan to get her out and what happens when they succeed puts Kate in a precarious situation with her Uncle Harry, Ball and Crespo.
Kate is tenacious, persistent and impulsive but most of all loyal to Boldu and its cause as she is kidnapped and interrogated by Askar Murzaev the Boldu chief of intelligence just as deadly as the torturer in the PIT. Hamid another classmate has disappointed Maksim and now more lives are in danger and Maksim and Ruslan are about to square off. Ruslan spent the better part of two years hiding from the GKNB and is hoping to not be on their radar. Sending Bermet to Germany the regime would have turned the world upside down to find her but getting her out was the first step in Boldu taking over the government. Asking her questions and using a lie detector she had to undergo a humiliating interrogation until they realized whose side she was on. Called in by her Uncle and questioned Kate had to confess to certain wrong doings while still tell lies about Ruslan and finding meeting him in person. Although she was told she made progress someone within their tightly knit group was working for the other side. Secretary of Defense Winston Crandle was arriving and Kate and regardless of their distaste for each other she was his control officer and Crandle knew of her relationship to the Ambassador. Making their way to a private meeting and worried that she might get caught in her lies, Kate was asked to reveal Ruslan’s real name and not reveal more. Wanting Seitek’s birth certificate was not any option to her. Kate was weary that she might have gone too far. Brass was condescending towards her and yet kissing up you might way to Crandle.
Meeting with Ruslan she learned that he wanted to bring the revolution closer. Allowing readers to know Ruslan better we learn that Ala-Too Square was an open plaza and that’s where he hoped to created his protest, coup you might say and turn things around.
Kate was the decoy to spread the first line of rumors about the head of the special Police named Talant Malinin. Finding herself in this difficult position and hoping that Malinin would be ousted or taken into custody and his deputy promoted to his job was Kate’s role when you see how she works the room during a diplomatic event. She needed to communicate with Ruslan and as soon as possible but will the message get there as she readies herself for meeting with the Ambassador of Switzerland. Anders Larssen was a rogue and womanizer and Kate had no trouble spreading her lies and feeling the information needed to make sure Eraliev would know that one of his own wanted to be where he is now. Brass would read the cable sent and what the defense attaché knew, Crandle was sure to learn about.
Telling him that the chief of police is ambitious and has a position of influence and wants more. Rumors are great when they receive the desired response. Was this a way to the ear of Eraliev?
Kate is once again interrogated and asked is she knows where is Ruslan Usenov now and Askar will not take I Don’t Know for an answer? Murszaev would learn what was awaiting him in the put and Kate began regretting what he planned to do before. Nogoev was a strong force and Kate did not realize or understand what was about to happen and as she was riding in the back of a truck, metal benches and they infiltrated the prison. Getting into the prison was not that hard, finding Ruslan and knowing that they would not release him so face allowed them to realize that the Special Police was there and the Scythians were on the march. Kate was captured and taken into the pit and definitely harshly interrogated. Would anyone come to her defense? Chalibashvili threw the questions, the smacks and by the time things ended she might become a permanent prisoner. Hoping she would find her aunt Zamira would bring her more tears and sorry. Author Matthew Palmer creates the next several scenes that will make you hold your breath, your heart beat faster and the hopes for Boldu to succeed held in balance. Ruslan leads the way. Some will follow others won’t. Kate needs to be freed and the end result will either tip the scales in Boldu’s favor or create more power for the President for Life. Just who is the traitor? What will her final fate be? Kate Hollister holds the final results in her own hands. The ending is powerful and the final result hopefully brings change in what direction: Democracy or More of the same? As the novel closes we wonder if the author is going to bring Kate back so that we can learn just where she belongs: America or using her Kyrgyz background and identity.