Throughout the past few years, parallels have been made between the current war in Afghanistan and the war in Vietnam four decades earlier. The popularity of each war dwindled over time, and acclimation back into society was difficult for veterans. For Army nurse Captain Elizabeth Pepperhawk (also known as Pepper), ex-Special Forces first sergeant Benny Kirkpatrick, and former military policewoman Avivah Rosen, getting used to 1972 America after tours in Vietnam is especially difficult. They experience flashbacks, have trouble relating to civilians–and are pushed back into survival mode in the mountains of North Carolina.
After receiving a phone call from Benny, Pepper drives in a snowstorm to the Convent of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in mountainous Crossnore, North Carolina. Benny is concerned about Avivah’s well-being following a conflict in New York City with a robber; specifically, he worries that the press will hassle Avivah and uncover some secrets from Vietnam that she did not want to surface. Being surrounded by friends for a restful break is exactly what Benny thinks Avivah needs. However, their plans change when members of the Saratoga Patriotic Foundation arrive at the convent. This organization, which sees itself as an alternative to the U.S. Army, is forcing the convent to turn over its buildings and land using a suspicious deed nearly a century old. When Avivah’s new lover, Gary, is found dead, the three friends begin to wonder which characters in this strange cast they can trust: the nuns, the members of the foundation (including a history professor, a troubled Korean War veteran, and a World War II general), even each other. As they race to get to the bottom Gary’s murder and others and to uncover the secret of the convent, Pepper, Benny, and Avivah must soldier on in the remote retreat – without electricity or an exit plan.
First Murder in Advent is Sharon Wildwind’s second novel in the Elizabeth Pepperhawk/Avivah Rosen Vietnam Veteran Mystery Series.
Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.