One Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This 7th installment in the Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne series was well worth the wait. I do admit it took me a chapter or two to get myself re-oriented to the story (a drawback when it's a long wait between volumes!), but once I re-wired the connections, I couldn't put this one down. I think what I like so much about this series is that both Clare and Russ are so human. They are good people, trying to live good lives, but they are flawed, and make mistakes which can have a huge impact. For those not familiar with the series, Clare Fergusson is the Episcopal priest in the small New York village of Millers Kill. She's also a military helicopter pilot. She is in a relationship with town's widowed chief of police, Russ Van Alstyne.
Clare has just returned from an 18 month tour of duty in Iraq and she is not adjusting to civilian life as well as she thinks she should. She joins a veterans' counseling group, where all of them are struggling readjust. The "mystery" in the story, (is it suicide? is it murder? who stole the money?) takes a back seat to the deeper story of this group of veterans coming to understand that their experiences wounded them emotionally and mentally even more so than any physical injuries. At the same time, Clare's relationship with Russ deepens as they both struggle to "hold on, and not let go of each other." The realistic portrayal of their individual and shared emotional journeys just adds depth to the richness of the story.
View all my reviews