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One Was a Soldier (Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, #7)
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One Was a Soldier (The Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries #7)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  4,599 Ratings  ·  559 Reviews

On a warm September evening in the Millers Kill community center, five veterans sit down in rickety chairs to try to make sense of their experiences in Iraq. What they will find is murder, conspiracy, and the unbreakable ties that bind them to one another and their small Adirondack town.

The Rev. Clare Fergusson wants to forget the things she saw as a combat helicopter pilo

Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 12th 2011 by Minotaur Books (first published 2011)
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Apr 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
The title of this book was taken from an Anglican hymn -- a children's classic for All Saints' Day.

Here's my book review, with apologies to Lesbia Scott:

I sing a song about Russ and Clare,
Patient and brave and true,
Who toiled and fought and laughed and cried
For a love they had cause to rue.
And Clare was a soldier and also a priest,
And Russ was a vet and a chief of police.
And if you liked the first six books, then at least
I think you'll like this one, too!

They loved each other so dear, so dear,
Aug 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
I’m going to do this series a disservice and just babble on here at the current stopping point, instead of talking about each book individually. Even though the individual books are trying a lot of different and interesting things with structure, usually successfully.

I read these in one sustained gulp through a work slump and summer insomnia. And I kept thinking confusedly “but I don’t like this sort of thing!” as I lunged desperately for the next book.

“This sort of thing” being improbable serie
May 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
How I enjoyed re-reading this great book in one of my favorite series! I love being taken away to the Miller's Kill world of Reverend Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne. This book had so much going on. The regular great cast of characters was present and part of a compelling storyline. The veterans in the support group, the mystery with its players, and the important events going on with Clare and Russ all add up to a fantastic story!

Clare Fergusson is back from deployment, but her experience
Feb 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Those that know me, know that several authors' new releases cause me to whoop with delight. Julia Spencer Fleming's release “One Was A Soldier” did more than that. When I received my copy of the book I danced around the house. But while a fan of the Miller's Kill series I also wanted to review it. To look at it and see where it went right or wrong while trying to stuff the “happy, happy, joy, joy” monster back in place and to try and give you an honest, NO SPOILERS review of this latest offering ...more
Oct 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve read all but one of the books in this series and that was an earlier one where Clare and Russ were still doing the ‘We should. We shouldn’t’ dance (so I don’t think I’ve missed anything important). I enjoyed the books but never felt that ‘turn the page’ urge I’ve felt with other authors. One Was A Soldier made me want to turn the page.

I can’t imagine what people who served in Iraq and Afghanistan went through nor the toll it took on their minds and bodies, but I can imagine how hard it must
Melissa McShane
Apr 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
I think this book brings us closer to the earlier books in the series, where the mystery is nearly as important as the personal relationships (unlike All Mortal Flesh and I Shall Not Want). The title is a great quote, though misleading because there are five soldiers involved, four of the five connected through earlier events in the series. (view spoiler) ...more
Kat Collins
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
(This is a review of the series as a whole). In the span of three weeks, I’ve finished an entire series of 7 novels. Call me crazy or obsessed, but I couldn’t put them down. And now I’m waiting impatiently for the next one! (It’s not out yet…come on Julia…write faster!)

I’m always struck by a series of books where I can fall in love with the characters, ride along with them on their adventures, and feel invested in every nuance and facet of their lives. The Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne myster
Barb in Maryland
Oh wow, the wait was worth it. This 7th book in the series featuring Episcopal priest Clare Fergusson and Millers Kill Chief of Police Russ van Alstyne is an amazing, emotional roller-coaster ride. I will confess up front that I went through half a box of tissues.
Clare is now safely home from the war zone and trying to pick up the pieces of her life, including her romance with Russ. However, she brings home some really heavy emotional baggage that leads her to join a therapy group, with several
Apr 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-romance-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was so excited about this book, but I felt like it was a huge departure from the rest of the series. In the other books, the mysteries tend to be a bit sloppy or overwrought but the personal tension between Clare and Russ is SO PALPABLE that it doesn't matter. In this book, the mystery came around better but I could barely tell Russ and Clare were in love. Also, I know Clare was having a hard time with PTSD, but this whole thing about, "Russ loved Linda, I'm no Linda"? ?! Where was she for the ...more
Mar 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dlr-library
[GR ate my review, only partly saved from Drive, so apologies if there are more typos than normal.]

It’s pretty clear by now that my “Clare Fergusson / Russ Van Alystyne novel” reviews are anything but pretty, and this will be no exception. (It’s not really even a “review”, as it’s too personal.) Safe with the usual caveats, and then, there’s the title, which gives a massive hint.

Anyway, after the satisfying climax (pause for me to snigger immaturely) of I Shall Not Want, and the less disturbing
Anna Elliott
May 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy of this book as part of the early reviews program (yay! my first time EVER winning something!) and was thrilled because this was one of my most highly anticipated books of the year. I've read (and loved!) all the previous books in Julia Spencer-Fleming's Clare Fergusson/ Russ Van Alstyne mystery series, so my expectations were high. And One Was a Soldier didn't disappoint, I absolutely loved it.

I Shall Not Want, the previous book in the series, ended with Clare and Russ finally
Oct 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm all caught up and now I have to wait and wait for a new one. (It comes out Tuesday, haha.)

(view spoiler)
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, library
Julia Spencer-Fleming pulls out all the stops with this story, and it pays off. It takes place a year and a half after I Shall Not Want, and changes abound for major and minor characters. The most significant, of course, lie in Russ and Clare's relationship. And Clare has issues to deal with as a result of her posting to Iraq. The main plot, in fact, circles around the veterans' support group Clare joins, and a series of events that spark her curiosity (and help her shut out the pain and fear sh ...more
Feb 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
I waited for this book for a very, very long time. I'm happy to say that the wait was worth it. This story was different from the action-packed mysteries of the others in the series. The actual "mystery" of this seemed almost behind-the-scenes. The real drama came from the damaged soldiers returning to Millers Kill and trying to get their lives back. Julia Spencer-Fleming did her usual excellent job of presenting the characters we know and love and care about. The banter wasn't as funny as usual ...more
May 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
I love the development and growth of the characters in this series, not only Clare and Russ, but everyone in Millers Kill. I feel like I've gotten to know so many of the inhabitants, some very well, and some as passing acquaintances. The people and the town are so genuine. I can’t wait to see what happens next to Russ and Clare, of course, but also to Hadley and Kevin, to Lyle and Harlene and everyone else on the police force, to the Stillman’s and the Ellis’ and the rest of the townsfolk.
I alm
Oct 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted as a Friday Pick of the Week at Cloudy with a Chance of Books

There are only two authors for whom I will religiously preorder hardcover—without reading blurbs, regardless of reviews, and regardless of whether we’ll be dining on more beans that month. When I realized that Suzanne Brockmann and Julia Spencer-Fleming BOTH had releases within a month of each other this year, I felt a bit like I do every December—my birthday and Christmas also happen in
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
There is so much more than the murder mystery in this installment of the Reverend Clare books -- I felt deeply for each and every one of the returned veterans dealing with their war service issues. Some of them got wrapped up a tad too neatly/easily, but the struggles along the way were sobering and heartbreaking, illustrating for the rest of us how difficult it is, in so many different ways, for combat veterans to ever return to 'peaceful' civilian life. War really IS hell.

The personal thread o
Glenna Pritchett
One Was a Soldier is the best yet of the Clare and Russ series. It's different from the others, though. Spencer-Fleming uses her superb writing skills to call attention to wounded soldiers -- not just those with physical wounds, but also those with emotional and psychological hurts -- and their struggle to find a way to carry on once they come home. It's a beautiful and heart-wrenching piece of writing.
Book Binge
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-review
This is the 7th in this series of mystery/romances and picks up the saga of this little town in upstate New York and its residents. Chief among those citizens in Russ and Clare, two people from very different walks of life, who share a history in the military, who are separated in age by more than a decade, and who have finally acknowledged their growing love for one another. But that love had to be put on hold during the 18 months Clare spent in Iraq, not as a chaplain but as a helicopter pilot ...more
Barbara Bryant
Feb 19, 2011 rated it liked it
After one has waited a year and a half beyond the original pub date for a book to come out, the book had better be good. The pressure is heavy on this one--the seventh in a series of mysteries featuring two main characters--Clare Fergusson, an Episcopal priest, and Russ Van Alstyne, the chief of police in the small upper New York state town of Miller's Kill. This review will not contain spoilers, but will assume that most readers have read some of the series before this point.

A few happy notes-
Dec 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library-book
I'm not quite sure whether to call One Was A Soldier chicklit about a military investigation or dudelit with romantic involvements. A bit of both, I suppose, and a pretty good example of why we should be wary of pegging books as only for women or for men...aside from the fact that as human beings, people have vagaries of taste that make readers advisory difficult at best.

Clare Fergussen has returned home to her post as Episcopal priest in Millers Kill, New York, from a tour of duty in Iraq; sh
Jun 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Wow. couldnt put this book down!

The one line that has linked Clare and Russ throughout all of the books is "Holding on. Not letting go." That seems a good way to sum up so many of the storylines in this book. This book focuses on the lives and experiences of 5 returning service members - 4 of whom we have already met in the series. It delves into what the transisiton back to civilian life is for them and how they are dealing with the issues they bring back with them (which are different for eac
Mar 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
When I tell some people that one of my favorite mystery series features a female Episcopal priest as the main character, they act as if they expect the Rev. Clare Fergusson to be some cozy-fied, charming old cleric with a twinkle in her eye and a ready supply of quaint homilies for every occasion. Nope. Julia Spencer-Fleming writes about passionate, headstrong people with complicated emotional lives, and she does it in a way that brings them beautifully to life on the page.

In this one, the Rever
Oct 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a quantum leap over the earlier Rev Clare & Chief Van Alstyne book that I read a few years ago. Spencer-Fleming has matured tremendously and her different stories and layers in this book straddle the fine line between character-driven literary fiction and solid mystery. Whichever mode is your cup of tea, you should check this book out.

Several different plots involving service veterans with emotional or physical problems tie this book together, and when one member of their therapy gro
Mary Ronan Drew
Nov 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One Was a Soldier is fundamentally an anti-war op-ed novel. It's also an excellent mystery, the seventh in Julia Spencer-Fleming's Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series.

At the very end of the last mystery, I Shall Not Want (2008), Clare, who was an Army helicopter pilot for 10 years before she was ordained, announced that she was re-upping and off to Iraq. The author likes to leave her books, which are very much about the private lives of the characters as well as being good mysteries, with a
Aug 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Rev. Clare Fergusson, Eric McCrea, Will Ellis, Dr. Trip Stillman, and Tally McNabb--all five of these individuals served in Iraq and all five came home as damaged versions of themselves. The five come together in a veterans group where they can discuss their PTSD and the problems they are having adjusting to their return to civilian life. Will used to be a track star and now he is a double amputee. Eric McCrea has uncontrollable anger issues that threaten both his job and his marriage. Dr. Trip ...more
Spectacular! Great to end my catching up in the series with a bang. Now, unfortunately, I have to wait until November for the next installment. This wait is made slightly more bearable by the upcoming Bouchercon, where I will be able to meet Julia Spencer-Fleming and gush in person to her about her novels.

One Was a Soldier deals with Clare's return to Millers Kill after an 18-month deployment to Iraq. She is among several others who are returning to the small town, including a deputy of Police C
Lourdes Venard
May 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
In what may be her best book to date, Spencer-Fleming writes about the soldiers who return from war, and the scars they carry, emotional as well as physical. Clare Fergusson is among those -- she has returned from an 18-month tour in Iraq and is suffering from flashbacks; she can't function without taking uppers, downers and painkillers, mixed with alcohol, a secret she hides from everyone. She join a veteran's support group where she finds four others in similar situations: police officer Eric ...more
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The Narthex: Discussion 3 14 Jul 17, 2012 05:47PM  
  • No Mark Upon Her (Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James, #14)
  • Though Not Dead (Kate Shugak, #18)
  • The Wrong Girl (Jane Ryland, #2)
  • Binary Witness (The Amy Lane Mysteries, #1)
  • Winter's Child (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #12)
  • A Late Phoenix (Inspector Sloan #4)
  • Heaven Is High (Barbara Holloway #12)
  • Bury Your Dead (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #6)
  • Death on Beacon Hill (Nell Sweeney Mysteries, #3)
  • A Lesson in Secrets (Maisie Dobbs, #8)
Wednesday, September 7

Work-In-Progress Wednesday at my Reader Space. We're up to the fifth part of the second chapter of my eighth book, which has some numerological meaning, I'm sure.
More about Julia Spencer-Fleming...

Other Books in the Series

The Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries (9 books)
  • In the Bleak Midwinter (The Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries #1)
  • A Fountain Filled with Blood (Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, #2)
  • Out of the Deep I Cry (Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, #3)
  • To Darkness and to Death (Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, #4)
  • All Mortal Flesh (The Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries #5)
  • I Shall Not Want (Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, #6)
  • Through the Evil Days (Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, #8)
  • Hid from Our Eyes (Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, #9)