Behind the Lines by WF Morris

behindlines.jpg“Her eyes were shining like stars – stars in the mist.”

A moving account of a kindly, decent soldier who accidentally kills a cowardly senior officer. Instead of trying to explain, he makes a run for it, leaving behind friends and his ambulance-driving fiancee.

He ends up living among the deserters. Not unlike the military, the deserts have their own code and pecking orders. Rawley goes from a decent officer to an unkempt but decent deserter, filthy and ragged.

Between scavenging and run-ins with the military, the casual moments of horror are made all the more stark. When Rawley runs into his financee again, she wants to have the honeymoon before they are drawn apart. But Rawley is “clinging to decency” by the barest thread in refusing. She says “two weeks of happiness out of – perhaps a whole lifetime. It seems such a little to ask of life.”

But the ending, so poignant, is well worth the read.

Thanks to NetGalley for the 30-day ebook loan.

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd

dutyAn elegantly written romantic mystery with a surprisingly gruesome plot.

A Duty to the Dead was quick to read and immersed you instantly into the setting. It had many lovely and quotable passages. I was surprised by how dark the plot was, it featured multiple violent incidents against young children by authority figures.

The main character is Bess, a war nurse who was believably courageous and intelligent with a love of justice from her upbringing in India. She reminds me a lot of Anne Perry’s Charlotte Pitt.

After a deathbed request from a young soldier she nursed, Bess eventually goes to his family. She finds his mother and step-father along with two brothers. Arthur’s dying words of ‘Peregrine didn’t do it, mother must be told‘ ought to be good news – but it’s clear that the family isn’t at all pleased.

After learning Peregrine is in an insane asylum, Bess is soon caught up in the seemingly unrelated death of a young maid when the boys were kids and a local soldier who is suffering from PTSD. She continues to persevere even as more people are murdered and her life is threatened.

I’ll definitely give the next book a try, but I intend to keep an eye out for the violence level.