Tamora Pierce's Reviews > At Some Disputed Barricade

At Some Disputed Barricade by Anne Perry
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's review
May 29, 2012

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bookshelves: mystery, historical, adult
Read in May, 2012

The third of Perry's WWI series featuring the Reavsley siblings, this book revolves around a mutiny in the regiment in which Joseph is a captain/chaplain and which his sister Judith serves as an ambulance driver. A new, rigid, ignorant major, a general's son, is discovered dead, killed by an English bullet, and the truth soon emerges that 12 men held a kangaroo court, found him guilty of ignoring the advice of more seasoned combat generals, and holding a mock execution in which one of the bullets turned out to be real. Joseph finds himself saddled with his men's defense and hiding his sister's part in their escape.

Against the capture, escape, return, and trial of the men is also Matthew Reavsley's renewed pursuit of the arch-manipulator and traitor called the Peacemaker, whom he thought dead. Now he learns the man is still alive and still trying to manipulate the war for a hoped-for new order in which there will be no more wars, one that will result either in a German-English peace that divides the Continent (and the world) between the two powers, or a Communist victory in Russia which will create a warless world.

The book is off to something of a slow start, but it picks up halfway through. The descriptions of the battle of Paschendaele, fought during the wettest August anyone can remember, with trenches swimming with water and debris and the mud up to mens' thighs, is heartbreaking. It's all too easy to understand how men would break under the commands of an unsympathetic and unheeding officer that would send them into life-threatening situations that could be avoided.
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