A novel-sized story about betrayal, friendship, love, and the US military. Also a story that leaves me in two minds whether to love or to dislike…
Dale Oakes is a lieutenant of the US military police, who has, after thwarting a criminal plot, almost been killed in revenge. While she awaits her discharge for medical reasons, she is reactivated by her close friend, Lieutenant-Colonel Anne Bishaye, to investigate apparent setups of drill sergeants in the 10th Battalion, where she is to work as an undercover agent in the disguise of a trainee together with another MP officer.
That other officer turns out to be Shannon Walker, a good friend of Dale’s that she had lost sight of. And no, Dale does not fall in love with her — Cheyne rarely, if ever, takes takes well trodden paths with her stories. Still, Dale does come to grips with her awakening attraction to the fairer sex while the story unwinds.
So, the story is about relationships, and not all of them are friendly. It is also about the trials and tribulations of women in a ‘man’s army’ in the mid-to-late 1970’s. And it’s a whodunit with the pace picking up towards the end, so much so that I almost missed the time to go to work while reading over my morning coffee.
So what’s to dislike? Let me quote from the introduction: “there will be sometimes … many paragraphs spent on military detail”. And that’s where the rub lies. Assuming that American readers are well informed about their military structures, my objection is that a non-American will have a hard time with understanding a lot of procedures, not to talk of abbreviations, that this story contains — and, yes, this reviewer is European. Pay grade ‘O-4’, ‘Article 134’ and so forth? Not all of it is entirely unexplained, but it does make for a somewhat strenuous reading. At times, I was ready to hand the author the “American Globe” award.
Apart from that, the story is brilliant. Not only are the main characters very believable, portrayed with strengths and flaws, the many “supporting acts” also have depth and roundness. There’s suspense and an unexpected conclusion. It exposes the problems women have in a male oriented society without being lamenting.
Even given my exception — it’s hard to put this one down. Go for a ride (but watch your clock:-)!