Bantam, Oct 2003, 5.99, 424 pp.
In the country of Dabion, the Justices who make the laws and the Public Force militia rule the people. Certain colored jewelry and ornamentation are banned and anyone who has or uses magic is sentenced to death. Dabion has conquered its neighbors except for Sor'raia where magic is the norm and its borders are closed.
Elizith Kor is the most successful spy in the Secret Force due in part to her Sor'raian blood which allows her to enter and read people's mind. After a very difficult assignment Elizith wants to leave the espionage game but she knows too many secrets to be free of her masters. She rents a flat in Tod Redtanner's home and he becomes someone she trusts and cares about. Their relationship puts both of them in danger from an unknown enemy who wants nothing more than to see Elizith die a slow and painful death.
Over the course of CONFIDENCE GAME, the protagonist slowly reveals her history to Tod. This technique leads to readers feeling sorry for someone who felt nothing until she reaches a breaking point and suddenly feels everything. Michelle M. Welch's debut novel is a fine fantasy starring heroic characters endearing to the audience because they are scarred and don't even realize it. It is hoped that there will be a sequel to this book that explores the magical world of Sor'raia of which the author has given the audience only tantalizing glimpses.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner