Review of Julia Spencer-Fleming's One Was a Soldier | How Mysterious! » How Mysterious!
Feb 072013

A year and a half has passed since the events of Julia Spencer-Fleming’s I Shall Not Want, and the Rev. Clare Fergusson has changed. Not surprising after doing a tour of duty as a helicopter pilot in the National Guard.

The book opens with Clare and several other veterans of the Iraq war gathering at the Millers Kill community center for a therapy session. It’s not entirely clear why Clare needs to be there at first, but that’s revealed as the story progresses. Also among the vets is our old friend Eric McCrea, one of Russ’s deputies in the MKPD, whose anger management issues are apparent on the job and off. Together the group begins to face the demons they brought home from the war.

The mystery begins when one of the group’s members, bookkeeper Tally McNab, is found dead. Everyone believes it’s suicide, but Clare won’t accept that, even when it turns out that Tally’s connected to war-related criminal activity. The book continues on two tracks, the investigation into Tally’s death and the problems the veterans have adjusting to life back home. The latter is presented sympathetically but unflinchingly — even Clare, who should be as well positioned as anyone to deal with war’s effects, struggles. But then, nothing is ever really easy for Clare! It’s not always an easy book to read, but it’s worth the investment.

If you haven’t been reading the Clare Fergusson-Russ Van Alstyne series, I don’t recommend that you start with this one. However, I read on Julia Spencer-Fleming’s website that the publisher is putting out the earlier books in the series for only $2.99 on e-book. If I hadn’t already read them all, I’d jump on that offer in a second!

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