I've just read an amazing book. Julia Spencer-Fleming's One Was a Soldier is one of the most enthralling novels I've read in quite some time. And as most of you know, I perused about five hundred mysteries last year.
Spencer-Fleming's award-winning series, set in a small town in New York state tells the story of the tangled relationship between Clare Fergusson, an Episcopal priest, and Russ Van Alstyne, the town's police chief. One Was a Soldier, though the seventh in the series, could be a standalone, so seamlessly does Spencer-Fleming weave in the back story.
I was particularly interested in this book because it deals with the long awaited marriage of the two main characters -- the same premise as in my forthcoming Under the Skin. It seems as though everything is set for happily ever after and then . . . complications ensue.
Yes, there's a mystery -- a well-plotted conundrum with a satisfying resolution -- but this book is so much more than a simple whodunnit. It's an finely rendered examination of the heart-breaking and timely topic of America's wounded warriors -- the men and women who have been and are still returning from active service, broken in body, mind, and spirit but afraid to ask for help.
And it's the deeply moving and quite passionate story of the love between Russ and Clare -- two flawed but ultimately honorable human beings. And that's what kept me reading -- stopping only for dinner and abandoning all other intentions till I got to the end.
Can you tell I love this book? Such real and likable characters, such wonderful, sensitive, intelligent writing! Highly, highly recommended.
(See below on ordering a free ebook with an excerpt containing a surprisingly hot scene between a priest and a police chief in a rapidly moving vehicle.)
(You don't own an ebook reader? You can go to Amazon and download a free Kindle for your computer.)
One Was a Soldier is so good that I would suggest starting with it rather than going back and reading the series from the beginning. I suspect however, after reading it, you'll want more and be eager to know how it all began ...
The book's not on sale till April 12, though it's available for preorder now. I asked Julia for an advance copy - and she has offered to send advance copies to 2 winners of a drawing here on my blog.
So if you'd like to be entered, just say so when you comment -- or send me an email (vicki_laneATmtnareaDOTnet). I'll wait a few days before drawing two names. Check back on April 3. If you're a winner, I'll need your snail mail address.
And the winners are....Mamabug and Shirley! (Sounds like a sitcom.) I'll be in touch!
If you're not a winner of this little drawing, there are some consolations below.
There is a FREE e-book of excerpts, extra content and letters from the war zone, available at Amazon, B&N and Sony. (This is where the hot scene in the truck is!)
And there's more about the books and the author at www.juliaspencerfleming.com.
Really, I think that a lot of you will thank me for this introduction, if you didn't already know this series.