Monday, February 3, 2014

ONE WAS A SOLDIER by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Julia Spencer-Fleming's One Was A Soldier is about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other war injuries.

Several characters in the book suffer from PTSD. That list includes the Rev. Clare Fergusson and, in a different way, her lover Russ Van Alstyne.

Fergusson is the rector of the Miller's Kill, New York, St. Alban's Episcopal church. Russ is the police chief in that small tourist community.

Action in the story begins when one veteran commits suicide. Clare believes she was murdered. Russ does not.

The soldiers' therapy group of which Clare is a part decides to investigate.

Most of the members of the group hide their PTSD. One is a physician hiding a physical injury, brain damage from an wartime explosion.

Finally, the book is about facing up to the truth. But it is about much more than that. It is about the passionate affair between Claire and Russ.

It is about a massive conspiracy to steal from and defraud the U.S. government.

It is about Russ' not-unresolved, but still ever-present PTSD-like pain at the death of his beloved first wife. (Russ continually crosses swords with a rich industrialist. Russ blames him for what Russ sees as his murder of Russ' wife.)

It is about Russ' own battle with alcoholism and PTSD. (He is a recovering alcoholic, a Vietnam veteran.)

And most of all, One Was A Soldier is about love and marriage.

Spencer-Fleming fills the story with pain and passion. One Was A Soldier includes some more-explicit-than-usual sex scenes.

This book and the other Clare Fergusson-Russ Van Alstyne books honestly show the stresses of the ministry.

My one problem with the story is that Clare is so involved with Russ' investigation. What she does, what he allows her to do, seems unethical for a police chief to allow. But that is a small quibble. If I were in the business of giving grades to books, this would be an A+ book.

My wife seldom reads one of my mystery novels. (She has her own kinds of reading.) She does read books I recommend, and she almost always likes them. I've moved my copy of this book to my wife's Kindle.


… she was left with nothing but the most elemental plea. Help me, God. God help me.
“It's like we're all sick, you know? Like we all got something wrong with us, but we won't tell the doctor and get it treated. Because we're afraid the cure is going to be worse than the disease.

He needed to wrap his arms around her and smell her hair and remind himself that there were good things in the world. The peace of God, she said in the service. God didn't do it for him, but Clare could.

P.S.--2/6/2014--My wife finished this book. She loved it. She is starting with the first one in the series with plans to read the series through. 

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