A PRIVATE WAR by Patrick Sheane Duncan


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A feisty female career officer keeps sexist pigs in line and a military thriller on-target.

Lieutenant Colonel Meredith (“Mere”) Cleon arrives at Fort Hazelton, Indiana, half-convinced that someone important doesn’t like her. It isn’t so, someone important, her commanding general, insists. True enough, the base is a backwater these days, closure looming, but “she’s a noble old place” and worth a good soldier’s best effort. Quintessential good soldier, Meredith commits herself to the task. But, as she quickly discovers, it is one whale of a task. Meredith is Fort Hazelton’s provost marshal—chief law-enforcement officer—and before she can say labor of Hercules she’s confronted with a homicide. Plus a heinous hate crime. Plus a hijacking—of guns and ammo—that’s got the “higher-and-higher” echelon thoroughly antsy. To compound matters, the murder victim turns out to be Lieutenant Georgia Carnes, a young, pretty, popular aide to a general, guaranteeing the closest possible scrutiny from a variety of bosses. And to top it off, Meredith’s immediate superior happens to be Colonel J. Peter Levy, against whom Meredith once brought charges of sexual harassment. Though they were warranted, the charges didn’t stick, but what has stuck is a bad enemy’s active animosity. Still, we’re talking the stuff of heroes, and within four days mighty Mere solves her crimes, gets a handle on some knotty domestic affairs (including her love life), all the while earning the loyalty—pretty sure to be undying—of a heretofore skeptical but now unreservedly admiring staff.

A bit too good to be true, but Meredith is on the whole easy to like in an easy-to-take entertainment by the author of Courage Under Fire (1996), which, as a movie, starred Denzel Washington and Meg Ryan.

Pub Date: June 3rd, 2002
ISBN: 0-399-14885-X
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2002