This interesting collaborative first effort attempts to plumb some of the lingering questions of Vietnam and its effect on those who fought and those who stayed behind. An unusual and often forceful novel, it is far from perfect, yet there is much to recommend. Chief among the books's virtues are its characters, rendered with depth and insight, especially the protagonists, Joshua Scott, a troubled veteran, and Claudia Bishop, widow of Scott's closest wartime buddy. Twelve years after the war, Scott travels to Kansas to meet Claudia Bishop and her teenaged son for the first time. After Claudia's initial resistance is overcome, they gradually form a bond that they hope will finally set the past to rest. A melodramatic subplot involving a jealous farmworker brings the book to a chilling, but jarring climax; the abrupt ending leaves the reader wanting a bit more. (April)
Guilt associated with the death of Tom Bishop in Vietnam haunts Joshua Scott 12 years after the war's close. In an attempt to deal with his feelings, Joshua seeks out Tom's widow, Claudia, who lives on the family farm in Kansas with her teenage son. What begins as a novel of adjustment to civilian life after Vietnam, with flashbacks to battle and camp life juxtaposed against scenes of small town and rural America, shifts to thriller-romance as Joshua becomes a part of Claudia's life and takes up her fight with a psychotic wheat cutter bent on rape and destruction. This action-packed first novel will hold the reader riveted; however, the plot is contrived, and conflicts stated at the beginning are not adequately resolved at the close. Recommended for libraries with heavy demands for action fiction. Thomas L. Kilpatrick, Southern Illinois Univ. at Carbondale Lib.
YA Twelve years after the Vietnam War, veteran Joshua Scott is still experiencing mental flashbacks so paralyzing that he cannot keep a job or sustain a long-term relationship. Compelled to deal with the past, he travels to Plains, Kansas, to meet the family of his commanding officer and close friend whose accidental death still haunts him. Tom Bishop's wife Claudia has buried her own anger over her husband's death with the difficult work of managing the farm and raising her son. She is hostile at first toward this stranger whose need to recognize and deal with the past mirrors her own. The healing relationship that develops between them is dramatically told against the background of simple prairie life. Beneath the surface of this quiet community lurks another horror, however. The violence described in the Vietnam flashbacks is integral to the story, but the violence of revenge-seeking hired hands at the Bishop farm is unnecessarily sensational and makes an otherwise believable story less than credible. Nonetheless, readers will appreciate the psychological drama and will gain historical and social insights to the Vietnam and post-Vietnam eras. Jackie Gropman, Fairfax County Public Library, Va.