- Series: Five Star First Edition Mystery
- Hardcover: 359 pages
- Publisher: Five Star; 1 edition (September 16, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594147876
- ISBN-13: 978-1594147876
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,008,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Missing, Presumed Wed: An Elizabeth Pepperhawk/ Avivah Rosen Mystery (Five Star First Edition Mystery) 1st Edition
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For the setting, try the exotic southern latitude of Asheville, North Carolina. If you're looking for eccentrics, there's one around every Victorian gingerbread and behind every live oak. And once the safety of town disappears? "Out north of Burnsville was strictly rural, a landscape filled with the highest peaks and deepest valleys in North Carolina. Avivah doubted that she would even find Hog Branch Road on a map. It sounded as though it was one of those places people talked about being so far back in the coves that you had to pipe in sunshine."
For the time period, try 1974, the anti-climactic but tumultuous years at the tragic conclusion of the Viet Nam War, when returning soldiers brought their own nightmares to a shakened America beginning to explore the challenges and changes of the Feminist Movement. The Old Order Changeth, but what fresh hell?
The gang's all here. Benny Kirkpatrick, scarred and stoic hero, has accepted the responsibility of marrying his dead best friend's widow and raising his sons. Avivah Rosen is working an unsatisfying job on a local police force and fighting the inevitable sexism. Elizabeth Pepperhawk is a nurse staying sober one day at a time. Colonel Darby Baxter is still bucking for a general's star. All are making preparations for their comrade's wedding. This gala occasion frames a plot sabotaged with tiger pits and punji sticks of sharpened bamboo, as dangerous as the jungles across the Pacific.
As the tribe gathers from all directions, Benny's mother is abducted, forced to leave her young grandson at the airport. The long-departed brother they had expected to meet has been detained in New York, suspected of being in the Irish Republican Army.
Grandma Grace appears shortly after, bruised and confused. Where has she been? Who rescued her? Could this respected matriarch be lying to protect someone? The man who abducted her had an unsavory reputation with the family back in Alaska decades ago. What is the role of the suspicious Cross of Joy ministry? Is MIA Randall himself still alive, or are the grainy pictures a fraud? Soon the entire family is involved in a murder which tries their trust for each other and the system.
Meanwhile, the on-again-off-again romance between Darby and Elizabeth takes a fearful turn as news that his ex-wife may be held hostage overseas. Does Pepperhawk dare dream of marriage when he, too, may disappear into the mist? Her old foe, the bottle, beckons at each twist of the plot.
And it's hard to imagine the tension Wildwind maintains as the clock ticks down to corral a gang of boisterous Green Berets into the mannered confines of a formal wedding. Will the ceremony take place? Or will Pepper's cherished military family be torn asunder, having escaped death in the war only to find a shameful peace? One tantalizing loose thread at the end leaves the promise that in the next book, the gang will be back in action in home territory.
Still every returning soldier struggles. Former-Army nurse Elizabeth Pepperhawk is confused with what she wants out of her relationship with Colonel Darby Baxter. Especially confusing her is Darby is thinking of expediting his ex-wife from a mess she is in Hanoi. Elizabeth's roommate, former MP Avivah Rosen has gotten a job with the Asheville police department, but quickly realizes she is a token assigned to community support work. Her friend veteran Benny Kirkpatrick is marrying war widow Lorraine Fulford. However, someone abducts his mother Grace, who returns unharmed the very next day but totally bewildered over what happened. Grace says Peter Taft, whom she knew in Alaska years ago snatched her. When someone kills Taft, Avivah investigates only to find her friends and family in the forefront of her inquiry as their secrets begin to surface just in time to destroy the wedding.
The mystery is fun to follow though straightforward but as always in the Pepperhawk-Rosen series it is following the personal lives of former Vietnam vets trying to readapt to American society in the early 1970s that makes Sharon Wildwind's saga super. The story line is once again profound as the readers gets deep into the psyche of several vets as the war is blamed on the soldier instead of LBJ and Nixon. With a mystery somewhat in support of the cast, MISSING, PRESUMED WED serves as an enjoyable timely historical thriller reminding readers to support the vets assimilate when they return (see FIRST MURDER IN ADVENT and SOLDIER ON THE PORCH).
First to arrive for the wedding are members of Benny's family coming in by ones and twos. Each one seems to carry his own mystery ranging from World War II, to the Irish conflict to association with con-men. Sub-plots abound. There is murder, attempted murder, love and doubts about love all mixed in with wedding preparations and the ceremony which does take place.
One of the many sub-plots deals with Pepper, Colonel Darby Baxter and his ex-wife who works for the government. Another covers Avivah as a new police officer in a time when Affirmative Action has just been introduced. Missing, Presumed Wed deals with serious issues while keeping the reader guessing about the mystery plot line to the very end. I'm looking forward to the fifth and final book in the series. Will Pepper and Darby wed? Will Avivah and Nate become a couple? Stay tuned.
by Judith Helburn
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women