The good news is that Rev. Clare Fergusson has come home from her Mideastern deployment as Maj. Fergusson to a marriage proposal from Millers Kill Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne. But that’s about the extent of the good news.
Despite its high murder rate (I Shall Not Want, 2008, etc.), Millers Kill, NY, is a small town, so it’s not surprising that everyone in the therapy group clinician Sarah Dowling runs for returning veterans knows everyone else. But Clare Fergusson, orthopedist Trip Stillman, double amputee Will Ellis, bookkeeper Tally McNabb and MP Eric McCrea, who’s returning to the civilian police force, can’t imagine how closely and painfully their lives will become tangled over the coming months. The news that Trip’s sister Ellen Bain, who works at millionaire John Opperman’s Algonquin Waters Resort, has been killed in a car accident that also provokes the premature birth of Chris Stoner’s baby Zachary while his father’s between tours of Afghanistan, is only the curtain-raiser to a darker immersion in massive fraud, corruption and murder. It’s obvious to everyone but Clare and Russ who the guilty party is. The author is less interested in fixing individual guilt, however, than in exploring the inescapable legacies of soldiers come home—including a crushing burden of imagined, and unimaginable, guilt.
Spencer-Fleming’s most ambitious book yet—think The Best Years of Our Lives with corpses—can’t quite live up to its lofty goals. But fans will continue to be impressed by her resourceful determination never to tell the same story twice.