Friday, August 11, 2023

No Graves As Yet: World War I Book 1 by Anne Perry

Publication Date: August 26, 2003

Length: 384 pages

Anne Perry is one of my favorite authors. I can always turn to one of her books if I'm going through a reading slump and need to jump start my interest in books again. I have been reading her Thomas Pitt, William Monk, and Christmas mysteries for over 20 years. I don't know why I took so long to read this first book in her WWI series because I've had this book for years. At first I thought it wasn't a mystery but it is. Also, it combines some history of the war which is always a plus. So I'm glad I finally decided to give this a try.

Joseph Reavley is a Cambridge professor who has enjoyed a so far idyllic life along with this brother, sister, and parents, all who are oblivious in the summer of 1914 just how much their world is about to change. He receives shocking news that his parents have been killed in what appears to be an automobile accident and his brother Matthew who is in the intelligence service, lets him know that their father had planned to deliver an important document that could greatly impact England and the world. His father, being a retired member of Parliament, was in a position to see that the information ended up with those who could protect the nation from further harm and ridicule. 

As Joseph and Matthew begin to investigate the car crash they realize it was likely foul play and find the timing very questionable. They hesitate to share their findings with anyone, including their sister as they don't want to alert the wrong people to their discoveries before they've had a chance to determine what happened. Simultaneously, one of Joseph's promising University students, Sebastian, is killed and his death also begins to appear suspicious. Not knowing it all might be related, Joseph, trying to work through his personal grief at all the tragedies, while sleuthing, along with the realization that the world is on the brink of war, is cracking apart. He doesn't know who to turn to for help, who to believe, or what to do but he knows something is terribly wrong, close to home, and with the nation and the world as well.

This book was very different from any of Perry's previous ones. She still has the mystery to solve and spends time in the characters' heads, showing them pondering through deep questions and trying to make sense of things but this book felt more like historical fiction than crime. Knowing it is part of an ongoing series that sees each year of the war and the Reavley siblings part in it means I realized that it is a family saga as well. The actual mystery felt a bit more like drama than suspense as Joseph and Matthew talk to friends of the family and officials about what everyone thinks might have happened.

I can see the positives in the book and I can appreciate Perry trying something new, but I'm not sure this series is for me. I was hoping for a bit more history with the war thrown in and the way it developed felt like it dragged, rehashing the same thoughts over and over again. Some of the way the characters behaved was also a little melodramatic, with too much agonizing over what to do next. There wasn't the feel of a "detective" that you get with the Pitt and Monk novels, nor was there the Christmas spirit that runs through her holiday books. Reading the comments I know some people really love this series and have become attached to the characters so I'm sure it continues to improve. I also thought the resolution was very far fetched. It was surprising to see the answers behind it all because it really stretched the imagination to think it could be true. 

I'm not sure if and when I'll read the next book in the series, Shoulder the Sky. I already bought it on sale so I have it and will probably tackle it eventually. But this will go last on my list for her series for me. The others are worth your time first if you are looking to start reading her works.

1 comment:

  1. Its good to finally read a book after so long. Maybe there's a reason why you didn''t read it back then!

    Thanks for sharing your review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge!