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by Anne Perry
Ballantine Books, March 2007
320 pages
ISBN: 0345456580

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

It is 1917 and England is in its fourth year of war with Germany. Many of England's solders are not coming home and those in the trenches are burned out or half mad. Chaplain Joseph Reavley must deal with a new commanding officer, Northrop, who is ignorant of the atrocities of war and gives stupid and dangerous commands to his men. This makes the soldiers frustrated and ruins morale.

Meanwhile Judith, Joseph's sister, is nearby dealing with the wounded and the consequences of war. As an ambulance driver she must find the wounded as close to the lines as possible and get them back to a hospital for care. Judith and her fellow ambulance drivers find themselves dealing with the results of poor commanders and poor military strategy.

When Northrop is killed, Joseph is forced to determine whether his men or the enemy murdered him. This leads him to rumors of mutiny and conspiracy among the soldiers and the arrest of several men. When these men escape, with the help of an ambulance driver, their future seems certain. Joseph believes that if he can discover the truth, only the guilty will be harmed and the innocent will live through their trial.

While Joseph is in the trenches, his brother is back in England working to win the war from the political arena. Matthew believes the Peacemaker is dead but he quickly learns that this is not true. Earlier in the series, Matthew did kill an important figure in the Peacemakers' army. But he did not kill the leader as he thought. Matthew must stop the Peacemakers' latest plan to convince England to join forces with Germany and end the war. Matthew hopes that this investigation will lead him to the Peacemakers' identity and allow him to find justice for his parents' murder.

AT SOME DISPUTED BARRICADE is the fourth book in Anne Perry's World War I series. While it is possible to read and enjoy this book without reading the entire series, this book references a lot of the events that appear in the first three books. If the reader is unable to understand or recognize the importance of past memories and events, it is difficult to see the nuances in this book.

I found this book the most disappointing of the series so far. This disappointment stems from the loose ends left in the plot rather than from any fault in the narrative. The focus of this book is Joseph Reavley's search for his own peace of mind and his own priorities in a world torn apart by war. He must decide what to tell the commanding officer about a potential mutiny; he must decide whether to chastise his sister for actions he does not support; and he must decide what type of punishment is due to a group of potential murderers. This story is complete and well drawn.

Unfortunately the subplot of AT SOME DISPUTED BARRICADE, which is Matthew Reavley's attempt to stop the Peacemaker, is distracting from the main plot. Matthew is attempting to expose a conspiracy involving highly-placed influential men who are being harmed by the Peacemaker. This subplot is not well developed and leaves a lot of dangling threads.

Perry has used the search for the Peacemaker throughout the series; however, she normally develops equal time to the topic and provides in-depth descriptions of the Peacemaker and his plans. In this book, this Peacemaker subplot seemed rushed and as if Perry would rather not include him in the plot. In a lot of ways, Matthew himself pushes aside this investigation as he worries about his brother and sister. If Perry had resolved this subplot better, the book would be much stronger.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, April 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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