Sunday, May 29, 2011

One Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Protagonists: Rev. Clare Fergusson and Chief Russ Van Alstyne
Setting: Millers Kill, New York
Rating: 4.8

In what may be her best book to date, Spencer-Fleming writes about the soldiers who return from war, and the scars they carry, emotional as well as physical. Clare Fergusson is among those -- she has returned from an 18-month tour in Iraq and is suffering from flashbacks; she can't function without taking uppers, downers and painkillers, mixed with alcohol, a secret she hides from everyone. She join a veteran's support group where she finds four others in similar situations: police officer Eric McCrea, who was an MP and who is unable to control violent tendencies; Will Ellis, a young man who returned as a double amputee; doctor Trip Stillman, who has suffered a brain injury and is hiding his memory issues from patients and family; and bookkeeper Tally McNabb, who had an affair with a fellow soldier. One of these people will die.

When Russ rules the death a suicide, Clare and her fellow vets disagree, and begin an investigation of their own. While there's some friction between Clare and Russ, most of the will-they or won't-they aspect of previous books is missing -- which is a good thing. Spencer-Fleming concentrates more on the mystery plot and presents us with a gripping character study of returning vets. There's still some romance, of course, and series readers will appreciate this book, too.

1 comment:

Julia Spencer-Fleming said...

Thank you so much for the kind words. I have been bowled over by the reception this book has received. If you or your readers have any questions, I'd be glad to try to answer them. Just let me know.