The Heat of Betrayal | Douglas Kennedy back on form

The Heat of Betrayal is the latest novel to flow from the pen of best-selling author Douglas Kennedy. It is a story of adventure set mostly in Morocco with some good characters and a strong plot.

Accountant Robin is married to artist Paul. She is successful and level-headed where he is impulsive and extravagant but they seem happy. As Robin nears her fortieth birthday, her biological clock is ticking and she’s keen to have a baby.

When Paul suggests a holiday in Morocco, Robin agrees and they set off for a few weeks of sunshine and relaxation. As is often the case in Kennedy novels, ‘happenstance’ plays an important role. Here, when Paul disappears and Robin is suspected of harming him, her world changes utterly and suddenly turns very dangerous.

Fortunately Robin is brave, inventive and has the financial nous to get herself out of some sticky situations. As she looks for Paul, her path crosses some dodgy characters and she uncovers some unexpected secrets from Paul’s past.

Strong women in The Heat of Betrayal

Douglas Kennedy has the gift of creating strong women characters and presenting the world through their eyes. Robin is a good example and the other female characters in this novel are also believable and sympathetic.

If I have a quibble with The Heat of Betrayal, it is that I was not keen on the violence that Robin encounters in her quest to find Paul. But Kennedy sustains the tension right to the end of The Heat of Betrayal. 

This is a novel with a strong plot and believable characters making for a thought-provoking page turner that is hard to put down. I liked The Heat of Betrayal more than Temptation and Five Days, both of which I thought were disappointing when compared to Kennedy’s earlier novels like A Special Relationship and The State of the Union. For me, The Heat of Betrayal is a return to top form for Douglas Kennedy. I enjoyed it.

[Disclosure: An advance copy of The Heat of Betrayal by Douglas Kennedy was made available via Netgalley for the purpose of this review]

See also: The Moment

The Moment by Douglas Kennedy

Fans of Douglas Kennedy will know that ‘happenstance’ — those moments in life where everything changes because we were in a certain place at a certain time — is a recurring theme in his work.

Set mostly in Berlin, The Moment is about American writer Thomas Nesbitt’s relationship with Petra Dussman — a relatively brief encounter that took place during the Cold War in the 1980s but which was to have a lasting impact on both lives.  Essentially,The Moment is a sad love story with spy thriller elements.

People and Relationships

Kennedy writes well about people and relationships and, for me at least, is at his best when he focuses on the drama of human relationships. In The Moment, it is only when he begins to focus on the relationship between Thomas and Petra that the novel really takes off. I found the early part of the book overly long and, unusually for Kennedy’s work, difficult to get in to, but when Thomas meets the artist Alastair Fitzsimons-Ross, and soon thereafter becomes involved in a relationship with Petra, the plot becomes more engaging and the pace quickens.

[Source: I purchased the Kindle edition published by Cornerstone Digital, April 28, 2011. ISBN: 1439180792.]

See also: The Heat of Betrayal by Douglas Kennedy.


Five Days by Douglas Kennedy

I imagine most middle-aged people struggle from time to time with feelings of self-entrapment. The ordinary family dramas that make up our daily existence often involve responsibilities that are the price of human relationships and limitations that are the consequence of economic necessity.

Douglas Kennedy is a master when it comes to creating believable, sympathetic characters — particularly female characters — and then confronting them with choices and dilemmas that resonate with the experiences of many readers.

Five Days tells the story of Laura, a radiologist who is unhappy in her marriage to Dan but bound by her sense of responsibility to her career, community and her two children who are just getting ready to embark on independent adult lives.

When Laura attends a work conference in Boston, she encounters Richard — an insurance salesman — and strikes up a conversation with him. This “happenstance” encounter is a trigger leading Laura to critically examine the limitations that she has placed on her life.

Like Laura, the other main characters — Dan and Richard — are also dissatisfied and unhappy. Perhaps unhappiness is the normal state — it has 122 synonyms apparently, where happiness has a mere 81.

Kennedy enjoys synonyms and playing with words — and indulges in this sport liberally throughout Five Days. I found myself calling up the Kindle dictionary to help with terms like “spiculated” and “aleatorical”. But that aside, this is an engrossing and mostly satisfying read. Of his earlier work, I particularly enjoyed The Pursuit of Happiness,  State of the Union and A Special Relationship. For me, at least Five Days is Kennedy doing what he does best.

Five Days by Douglas Kennedy is published by Random House / Hutchingson, 2013. I purchased the ePub edition — ISBN 9781409021469.