by Anne Perry
This is book 4 in Perry's excellent World War I historical fiction/mystery series. The year is 1917. Joseph Reavley, a chaplain, and his sister, Judith, an ambulance driver, are bone-weary as they approach the fourth year of the conflict. On the Western Front, the Battle of Passchendale has begun, and among the many fatalities from Joseph's regiment is the trusted commanding officer, who is replaced by a young major whose pompous incompetence virtually guarantees that many good soldiers will die needlessly. Soon he dies, too, but not from enemy fire, but by one of his own men. Joseph would like to turn a blind eye, but he cannot. In fact, he is charged with tracking his escaped comrades through Switzerland and return them to the front where they will have to stand trial.
Matthew Reavley is continuing his work in the Secret Intelligence Service and is in London trying to uncover the identity of the Peacemaker - an obsessed genius who has committed murder and treason in an attempt to stop Britain from winning the war.
One quote: If we have any right to claim that we fight for civilized values, a way of life acceptable to man and God, then we do not look away from the truth because it is not what we wish it to be or find comfortable to deal with.
So much of the tension in these novels comes from the clash between the atrocities of war and personal attempts at integrity and honor. These men were living in situations not even imagined in their worst nightmares. Joseph described the French trenches as a blood-soaked gateway to hell. Some of these men spent over 3 years in this hell, mindlessly killing the enemy who they knew were good, kind men with families of their own. They jumped up and over the sides those trenches day after day, watching their lifetime buddies falling around them and wondering if this was the day they would die.
With war as the backdrop, Perry's characters are challenged with decisions of honor, with questions of Gods existence, with the value of one life over another.
This book was released in March 2007. The last and final book comes out on Apr 10 - just one month later. I think that is very kind for those of us who are so anxious.
I actually read finished this book several days ago, but have been busy with family, so I'm a little slow in getting it posted.