HEART OF WAR by IV Truscott


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 Sex, sexism, and murder rear their ugly heads at an Army base in Georgia, with convulsive consequences for the brass and troops alike: another engrossing, cautionary tale from Truscott (Rules of the Road, 1989, etc.), now making a welcome return to the military milieu he knows best. Major Kara Guidry, a staff attorney in the Judge Advocate General's Office, is assigned to investigate the homicide of a young female lieutenant at Fort Benning. Apprised that the victim may have been romantically involved with a senior officer, she fixes on William Beckwith as her prime suspect. A vaultingly ambitious but personally reckless general who's in line to become the next Chief of Staff, he fits the frame nicely. Eager for an end to the messy case, Beckwith pressures Kara (vulnerable because, against regulations, she's been conducting an affair with a staff sergeant) to finger a convenient fall guy who died in a training mishap. Guided by the martial premise that the heart of battle is to engage the enemy or retire from the field, the feisty JAG lawyer (a former helicopter pilot whose gender denied her a squadron command) presses on, eventually unearthing evidence that links the careerist Beckwith to an earlier killing. Before she can pounce, though, another young woman's body is found and Captain Randy Taylor, Beckwith's aide, is indicted for the crime. The likable Taylor has an airtight alibi, which he refuses to use because it would incriminate his gay lover, a Pentagon brigadier. Having switched sides to defend him, Kara manages to dig out the truth in a series of vivid courtroom confrontations that reveal the culprit and leave her sadder but wiser. A well-handled shocker that raises intriguing questions as to how one branch of the armed forces can send soldiers of varied sexual orientations so many conflicting messages. (Film rights to Jaffe Entertainment; Literary Guild selection)

Pub Date: June 10th, 1997
ISBN: 0-525-94117-7
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1997