Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review: One was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming

 One Was A Soldier

Author: Julia Spencer-Fleming
Format: Minotaur Books (2011), ARC, 336 pages
Characters:Russ Van Alstyne, Clare Fergusson
Subject: soldiers returning from war, murder, theft
Setting: fictional town of Millers Kill NY
Series: Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mysteries
Genre: mystery- police procedural/amateur sleuth; romance
Source: ARC from the Early Reviewer program on LibraryThing.com

She's done it again!  Julia Spencer-Fleming just gets better and better. This is the seventh in the series, and the town of Millers Kill NY is beginning to feel like a hometown.  We thought we knew everyone, but here, as Rev (Major) Clare Fergusson finally returns home after her tour as a helicopter pilot in Iraq, we are introduced to several of her fellow veterans, each of whom has some serious impairment from service - either PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, physical impairment or some combination of all of them.  Depression, alcoholism, anger management, flashbacks, drug addiction ---these are some of the problems that send several of them, Clare included,  to veteran's group therapy sessions. While discussing their problems, they become involved in solving a mystery, and Clare, in her usual 'damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead' manner again finds herself butting heads with police chief (and fianc√©) Russ Van Alstyne, elevating the already steamy sexual tension between the two.

Spencer-Fleming is at her best here with an elegant, poignant, anguish-filled character study of the group participants, with her believable plot that gives us many twists and keeps us guessing, and with a romance that we thought was going to culminate in this volume (we've been waiting for years).  Everything-- characters, plot, scene setting, and romance combine to make an incredible and enjoyable page turner.  I only wanted to see how it started, but ended up putting aside two other books I was reading to follow this one from page 1 to the end.

Readers who are new to the series can read this one without having to read the previous ones - there is just enough back-fill to make it enjoyable, but fans of the series, who have followed this friendship/romance from the beginning, will find it truly rewarding.

I will not do spoilers--the group works together to try to overcome the mental and physical wounds they all are suffering, they become involved in "helping" the police determine if a murder has been commited and if so who did it, and they become involved in uncovering a huge Army boondoggle.  Oh yeah.....and Clare and Russ march toward the altar.  Do they finally get married?  I won't tell, and  I certainly won't give away a very surprising ending that left me screaming   "NO YOU CAN"T STOP HERE!"

I love Julia Spencer-Fleming, but I'm almost upset ---now I have to wait for the next installment.  And it had better be soon!

1 comment:

  1. I have not started it yet. i have about three books that I need to read first and I am trying to be strong! lol

    ReplyDelete

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