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One Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming

One Was a Soldier

by Julia Spencer-Fleming

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This seventh book in a wonderful series is quieter and much more personal than the rest have been, but it deals with some very serious subject matter. First and foremost is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Each of the five vets attending the group therapy sessions suffers from it, and each one's symptoms are different. Throughout the series, the Reverend Clare Fergusson has been a rock, someone others look up to in times of need. To have her suffer from PTSD and to show her coping with it in very inappropriate ways brings home how serious the disorder is. Readers have already grown to care deeply about Clare, so their sympathy and understanding is more or less guaranteed. By their very proximity, the other four veterans are brought in under the umbrella of understanding that has been extended to Clare.

The lives of the characters also progress in this book, including my favorite, Hadley Knox. Hadley's been thrown into an occupation that she thinks she is very ill-qualified for, but she's determined to do the best that she can for her children, and being a police officer brings in the money that she needs. What she can't see (and we can) is that she's better qualified than she thinks, and I always enjoy the scenes in which she appears.

With all this talk of PTSD and characters' personal lives, you might think that the mystery isn't up to the author's usual high standards. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only are our favorite characters' lives moving forward, One Was a Soldier also has a first-rate investigation that kept me guessing throughout. One more book, and I'll be current... unless Spencer-Fleming manages to get one step ahead of me! ( )
  cathyskye | May 7, 2015 |
I received this book a few years ago along with and ARC I had one. I finally got around to reading this one. This is my second book in this series.

Reverend Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne are at it again. Clare just comes back from being deployed in Iraq. She has problems and joins a support group. Were you will meet more veterans. They are all suffering in there own way.

I enjoyed the story with the many different stories mixed in. Clare and Russ also get engaged in this book. It was interesting to see the wedding planning with Clare's mother from Virginia. One of the soldiers from her support group dies and her death is ruled a suicide. Clare cannot accept that and goes on a mission to find out the truth. ( )
  crazy4reading | Aug 7, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to get through this book without loosing interest. May had I read the series from the beginning I would have had more luck.
  fletch68 | Jun 17, 2014 |
Tale that focuses on the returning soldier, and the trauma the go through. Young woman in Claire's therapy group is felled. The question is if it is suicide, or murder. Shows Claire becoming increasingly addicted to pills, in the midst of her and Russ's wedding plans. Disturbing book, a little too long for my tastes. ( )
  Pmaurer | Mar 17, 2014 |
This volume of the Clare Fergusson-Russ van Alstyne mysteries centers on the experiences of several Iraq War veterans recently returned from duty. Clare is one of them, having taken a leave from her duties as an Episcopal priest to fly a helicopter in Iraq. The vets are all part of a support group that meets weekly to work through issues adjusting to civilian life. Julia Spencer-Fleming writes very topical novels, often exploring somewhat controversial issues. This novel is no exception: she is very clear on her views about the pointlessness of war. Characters return home scarred; their relationships suffer. Some never return home, leaving loved ones to mourn their loss.

The mystery, normally a driving force for these novels, takes a long time to develop, and seems almost ancillary to the stories of the vets and other supporting characters. Sparks have flown between Clare and Millers Kill police chief Russ since the first book in this series, and in this one their relationship develops in a most satisfying way. There's also another romance developing between two newcomers to the police force, which promises spice and suspense in future volumes. About halfway through this book I wasn't sure what to think, since it was so much more about the characters than the mystery. But by the end I was swept up in the personal stories and even teared up a bit in all the right places. ( )
  lauralkeet | Nov 30, 2013 |
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added by Shortride | editKirkus Reviews (Jan 1, 2011)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Spencer-Fleming, Juliaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Toren, SuzanneReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Sarah Dowling's first thought, peering through the wire-reinforced glass of the community center's door, was that they were an odd group.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312334893, Hardcover)

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.

One Was a Soldier is "a surefire winner" (Booklist) and "Outstanding" (Library Journal)--Julia Spencer-Fleming at her best.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:45 -0400)

At the Millers Kill Community Center, five veterans gather to work on adjusting to life after war. The Reverend Clare Fergusson has returned from Iraq with a head full of bad memories she's using alcohol to wipe out. Dr. George Stillman is denying that the head wound he received has left him with something worse than simple migraines. Officer Eric McCrea is battling to keep his constant rage from affecting his life as a cop, and as a father. High school track star Will Ellis is looking for some reason to keep on living after losing both legs to an IED. And Tally McNabb has brought home a fatal secret. Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne just wants Clare to settle down and get married to him. But when he rules Tally McNabbs death a suicide, Clare sides with the other vets against him. Russ and Clares unorthodox investigation will uncover a trail of deceit that runs from their tiny Adirondack town to the upper ranks of the Army, and from the waters of the Millers Kill to the unforgiving streets of Baghdad.… (more)

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