What is ‘brave’? It’s not the same as fearless…

What is ‘brave’? It is by the Oxford English Dictionary defined as: “ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage”. It is therefore not the same as ‘fearless’.

But let me explain.

Takes One to Know One by Susan Isaacs is the story of Corie Geller, 35-ish, who used to be an FBI Special Agent and member of a terrorist task force until she traded in her badge to marry a rich and handsome widowed judge, and become a mother to his 14-year-old daughter.

Corie still does the odd freelance consultancy job for the Bureau, and she also reads Arabic fiction for several publishers to see if she can recommend anything for translation and publication. Her past is kept quiet from her neighbours. But she is somewhat bored, so she has joined a weekly lunch group of other self-employed people.

The story
Corie may have handed in her badge, but her instincts are not blunted and she soon realises that there is something a little off about one of the members of the lunch group, Pete. He behaves in a strange manner and she starts to wonder about him. But does Pete really have a shady alternate life, or is Corie just imagining things, desperate to add some spark to her humdrum suburban existence? She decides the only way to find out is to dust off her FBI toolkit and delve into Pete’s affairs. With the help of friends in the Bureau and her retired NYPD father she starts to dig. At first, she thinks he might be like her, a retired law-enforcement officer keeping his past under wraps, or maybe even in witness protection. But when these prove not to be the case, she comes to the conclusion that he may be a criminal.

Corie dives deeper into Pete’s affairs, even following a promising trail to Texas, where she finds a strong likelihood that he is, in fact, an assassin for hire.

Up until now the story has bowled along in a fairly light-hearted manner, with no hint of menace. That changes suddenly when Corie is taken. There was no hint this was going to happen, which made it all the more disturbing. And it’s here that the bravery quote comes in because Corie is terrified and in real fear for her life. But if you want to know what happens and whether she gets out of her predicament, you’ll have to read the book.

A good plot
I enjoyed this. I liked Corie; practical, brave and resourceful. The story was written in a fairly light-hearted manner. And as in real life, her exploits at finding the truth about Pete were interspersed with descriptions of her daily existence. The writing was quite linear, no flashbacks, no indication of something nasty to come, no metaphorical drum roll, which is what made the sudden turn of events so shocking.

All the other characters were as well fleshed out and believable, especially her parents and her deeply-undercover Muslim ex-boyfriend.  Her husband was less clear, but he appears less in the story. I did occasionally wonder why she didn’t enlist his help but came to the conclusion it was because she didn’t want him to tell her not to do what she so obviously wanted to do!

As a bit of light hokum, I recommend this book. I give it 4 stars for the unpretentious writing style, the sudden deep tension at the end and its rather endearing heroine, Corie.
Review by: Freyja