Book Review Short: One Was a Soldier

It’s summer and I want to be outside playing with The Five-Year-Old. While that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped reading, it does mean I don’t want to spend a lot of time reviewing. Hence, the book review short.

One Was a Soldier (Rev. Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery #7)
By Julia Spencer-Fleming
Minotaur Books, 2011

This series just keeps getting better and better. I like that it’s set in a part of the country that I am familiar with (upstate New York), but mostly I stayed up late reading these (all seven in about a week), because I love the story of Russ and Clare.

Very realistic behavior on all sides from some really well-drawn characters, which made for an engaging story. It helps that the interpersonal stories play out over the course of some pretty good mysteries (although I often guessed the solutions before they were officially revealed, oh well).

Be warned: The mystery in #7 isn’t that great, but the portraits of what going into a war zone does to people are extremely compelling. Even if they don’t have obvious external injuries, the damage can be immense and crippling and to see it played out in the character of a person you feel you have gotten to know from reading the previous books in the series makes it just that much more powerful. I read this one with an ache in my throat pretty much the entire time.

Read this series if you like to mingle romance with your detective’s work, but do yourself a favor and read them in order (the first book in the series is In the Bleak Midwinter).


About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at, chatting about books and the writing life at, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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