RogerBW's Blog

One Was a a Soldier, Julia Spencer-Fleming 12 February 2024

2011 mystery (modern police procedural plus amateur), seventh in its series. War is not good for people.

Indeed, the framing story is a support group for veterans with problems, because even the people who came back with all their body parts intact have got into drug habits, or developed a short temper, or had unwise affairs, or otherwise found some method of coping with being in a war zone which it's unproductive to continue with once they're home. That works well for me; it's rare in my reading that I meet sensible portrayals of post-traumatic stress, as something that doesn't necessarily go away just because you talk it out with your found-family, even if it does get too-neatly segmented into person X with problem A, person Y with problem B, and so on. (Comorbidity is hard! Let's give antibiotics.)

And I suspect Spencer-Fleming would agree with me that that is what the book is about, even though there are also some murders. Has a war-zone relationship turned obsessive and followed someone home? Or is it all more complicated than that? (Though someone who's been portrayed in previous books as a smiling villain is so blatantly playing the villain here that it's hard to take him seriously.)

Not one for the mystery purist, but I still find the characters and environment intriguing. (In retrospect, this was the last book in the series that I enjoyed.)

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Previous in series: Letters to a Soldier | Series: Fergusson-Van Alstyne

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