Thursday, October 10, 2019

Book Review: One Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming

One Was a Soldier
Author: Julia Spencer-Fleming
Series: Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries (Book 7)
Publication: Minotaur Books; First edition (April 10, 2012)

Description: On a warm September evening in the Millers Kill community center, five veterans sit down in rickety chairs to try to make sense of their experiences in Iraq. What they will find is murder, conspiracy, and the unbreakable ties that bind them to one another and their small Adirondack town.

The Rev. Clare Fergusson wants to forget the things she saw as a combat helicopter pilot and concentrate on her relationship with Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne. MP Eric McCrea needs to control the explosive anger threatening his job as a police officer. Will Ellis, high school track star, faces the reality of life as a double amputee. Orthopedist Trip Stillman is denying the extent of his traumatic brain injury. And bookkeeper Tally McNabb wrestles with guilt over the in-country affair that may derail her marriage.

But coming home is harder than it looks. One vet will struggle with drugs and alcohol. One will lose his family and friends. One will die.

Since their first meeting, Russ and Clare's bond has been tried, torn, and forged by adversity. But when he rules the veteran's death a suicide, she violently rejects his verdict, drawing the surviving vets into an unorthodox investigation that threatens jobs, relationships, and her own future with Russ.

As the days cool and the nights grow longer, they will uncover a trail of deceit that runs from their tiny town to the upper ranks of the U.S. Army, and from the waters of the Millers Kill to the unforgiving streets of Baghdad.

My Thoughts: Clare has come back from her service in the National Guard with nightmares and an addiction to the many drugs that helped her get through her time in Iraq. She is in denial about her problems and she is spending a lot of time combining her drugs with alcohol and pretending everything is all right. When Will Ellis, one of her parishioners who came back a double amputee at age 19, is having issues, she agrees to attend a Vets support group if he will. There they meet Dr. George Stillman, Officer Eric McCrea, and Tally McNab. It is a small town and there are lots of connections. Trip Stillman was Russ's doctor and also treated Will. Eric works in the police department with Russ. Each of them came back wounded though Will's is the only visible injury. And all are having trouble coping with the return to civilian life.

When Tally dies, an apparent suicide, Clare doesn't want to believe that she took her own life despite Russ's investigation which supports the suicide verdict. Clare and Russ are at odds over this conclusion which just adds more stress as they are in the lead-up to their wedding.

As Clare and the rest of the support group begin looking into Tally's death, they are led to, first, a missing million dollars in cash that Tally and her husband probably brought back from Iraq. An investigator from the Army's financial division is on Tally's trail but isn't conducting her investigation as Russ thinks it should be done. He becomes suspicious of her but is willing to let the Army take over since the crime isn't in his jurisdiction.

But the theft of a million is only the tip of the iceberg of a much larger financial crime that leads to Opperman who is a long-time enemy of Russ's and who Russ believes got away with the murder of his two partners (A FOUNTAIN FILLED WITH BLOOD).

Much of the plot in this one revolves around the problems the support group brought back with them from war. Tally's suicide, Clare's addiction, Will's suicide attempt, Trip's traumatic brain injury, and Eric's anger management issues all play roles in this engaging and twisty thriller.

This was a fast-paced and emotional thriller. I love the relationship between Russ and Clare. They are both strong people who become better and stronger together.

Favorite Quote:
"Why do you want to get married? I mean, other than the sex thing."

"There has to be more than sex?" He grinned. "It's not because I'm chomping at the bit to be the preacher's husband, I can guarantee you that." She laughed a little. He ran his hands up her arms and rested the on her shoulders. "I want to be married because I like those easy-to-understand, boring definitions. Husband. Wife. I want to be married because life is short, and I want to spend whatever I have left of it with you, every day, every night. I want to be married so that everything I have and everything I am is yours, and everything of  you is mine. And I want to be married so I can lay you out on the dining room table if I feel like it and have you six ways from Sunday in the middle of the afternoon and if one of your parishioners walks in on us, it's tough titties for them."

She started laughing.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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