Sunday, July 27, 2014

Of Love and War by Paul Doherty

Of Love and War by Paul DohertyI was already reading three other books when I came across this Amazon freebie. It sounded like something I'd like so I downloaded it and immediately read the first chapter. (I always do this with freebies so I can see if they're worth taking up space on my kindle or should be deleted at once).

Anyway, in spite of other bookish commitments I got engrossed in this story and read it over two days, my other books put aside.

This is a really good story. Major Oscar Fairfax is an Inspector Javert-type person who's post war assignment (and his own personal vendetta) is to find war by-steppers, deserters, cowards, and other war "criminals" and bring them to justice. With this in mind he arrives in the small Durham town of Crouden with his briefcase and...evidence.

A lot can happen in a trench. With explosions, corpses, confusion and trauma, it is an easy thing to pop off one or two people you're fed up with and no one would know the difference. What happens in the trench, stays in the trench, right? Maybe, maybe not.

Take Billy, Jack and Kitty. Three pals from childhood. So close, people called them "the Trinity". When they grow to adulthood, both boys love Kitty with all their heart but only one can marry her. Billy marries Kitty and Jack mourns not only the loss of the love of his life but also the end of the three Musketeers. From now on, there won't be three pals. There will be two and one.

War is declared. Billy and Jack go off to fight. Billy is killed and Jack marries Kitty. All goes well until Major Oscar Fairfax comes on the scene planting doubts about Jack. It turns out Jack was the last person to see Billy alive and when Billy's body is found, there are two wounds. One shrapnel wound to the stomach and a bullet wound to the temple; a bullet fired from a British gun. Jack's helmet is lying nearby...

I found this book a gripping read. I thought that the insight into post war trauma was realistic and honest. I particularly felt for the character of Bob Daventry who was a grave digger during the war and while he returned home alive, he would never be a complete man again. We see him spending his days with a shovel over his shoulder or digging holes for all the dead "that won't stay in their graves like they should".

Recommended for readers who like a good mystery with fully formed characters, in a similar vein (but different) to Charles Todd.


SEX: One sexual attack. Not graphic.
VIOLENCE: War imagery. Accurate but not graphic or gratuitously gory.
PROFANITY: Moderate. (B's, A, S)


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