Tag Archives: Veterans

Bob Boan. Bobby Becomes Bob. Kingsport, TN: Twilight Times Books, 2009.

As the title suggests, Bobby Becomes Bob is a coming-of-age story.  At twenty-eight Bobby Padgett has returned to his childhood home of St. Umblers, North Carolina.  Before the reader learns why he is back or what his mission there is, we follow Bobby as his mind flashes back to the experiences of his childhood – from his first broken bone to his first love, Sam.  He also recalls experiences such as finding a wallet on the sidewalk, working hard to pay for college, and twice avoiding the Army draft.  As he grew up, Bobby’s parents taught him how to be honorable, a gentleman; they also instilled in him strong family values.

Bobby was drafted for a third time and quickly sent to Vietnam. This altered the course of his life. On his second day in Vietnam, Bobby and his squad were captured. In captivity they were brutally and repeatedly tortured. When Bobby was rescued by American soldiers three and a half years later, he was a different person.  After spending months in Japan, Germany, and Washington, D.C. recovering, Bobby resolves to go by “Robert” or “Bob” from now on as a sign of his maturity.

When he finally returns to St. Umblers, Bob finds a street named in his honor, and Sam walks by him without recognizing her former flame. Bob realizes that his family and friends believe that he died in Vietnam, and that they have changed as much as he has. Although he plans to set the record straight eventually, Bob decides that this day would not be the day for his homecoming, and he returns to Washington.

Small-town North Carolina in the 1950s and 1960s is vividly portrayed in this novel.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Boan. Bob, Coastal Plain, Johnston, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship

Tim Downs. Head Game. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007.

Cale Caldwell didn’t plan on being a soldier, but an Army ROTC scholarship helped pay his way through UNC.  Before Cale could begin a job with an advertising firm in Chicago, the first Gulf War interrupted his plans.  Luckily for Cale, he served in the war with his good friend, fellow Tar Heel King Kirby.  The two young men worked with a seasoned veteran, Pug Moseley, in a psychological operations unit.  They were good at their work–creating pamphlets and other propaganda that encouraged the enemy to surrender rather than fight.  They saw some bad things, but nothing that they couldn’t leave behind.

Or so Cale thought. When the book opens, it’s now more than a decade later.  Kirby has just committed suicide, and Cale has come from Charlotte to New York City to help Kirby’s mom sort through his possessions. Cale is having a tough time himself.  His wife has died in a car accident, and his teenage daughter hasn’t been able to come to terms with her mom’s death. Unable to accept the story of Kirby’s suicide, Pug and Cale poke around in the past even as more bad things happen to Cale and his family in Charlotte.  Soon the men know that someone from their past is out to destroy them, and the hunter and hunted reverse roles as the novel moves to a dramatic conclusion.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Downs, Tim, Mecklenburg, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

Sharon Wildwind. Soldier on the Porch. Detroit: Five Star, 2007.

For the past two years, former military policewoman Avivah Rosen has been trying to make a new life in Asheville, North Carolina and to forget about her role in a scandal in Vietnam. However, after a deadly explosion at the Veterans Affairs hospital where she works as a security guard, Avivah’s life is in grave danger. When she is approached by the F.B.I. and offered protective custody, Avivah realizes that the ugly truth will surface. In Long Bien, Vietnam, Avivah’s major ordered his four officers to kill six American soldiers – all Black and Hispanic. Now, Avivah is the only surviving officer with knowledge of the crime.

Elizabeth Pepperhawk, also known as Pepper, is a nurse at the VA hospital and Avivah’s housemate and best friend. After coming into work intoxicated on the night of the explosion, Pepper also finds herself at risk – of losing her job. To keep her job Pepper agrees to attend workshops led by the hospital’s personnel department. She meets an interesting cast of characters in class, but Pepper often butts heads with the Director of Personnel and the session leader. When a team-building outing in the mountains goes wrong, the lives of Pepper and her classmates are put at risk.

Avivah and Pepper’s stories merge as the F.B.I investigates the explosion and the two women, along with their friends, explore why Avivah’s former major was in Asheville. As their lives become increasingly more at risk, the women realize that they can trust no one. They must figure out who is killing people close to them – before they become the next victims of an unlikely perpetrator.

Soldier on the Porch is the third novel in Sharon Wildwind’s Elizabeth Pepperhawk/Avivah Rosen Vietnam Veteran Mystery Series.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Buncombe, Madison, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Suspense/Thriller, Wildwind, Sharon

Sharon Wildwind. First Murder in Advent. Detroit: Five Star, 2006.

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.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Avery, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Suspense/Thriller, Wildwind, Sharon

Sharon Wildwind. The Elizabeth Pepperhawk/Avivah Rosen Vietnam Veteran Mystery Series.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been in the news in recent years, but the Vietnam War still has its place in the psyche of the generation that came of age in the 1960s and 1970s.  This series, set in the 1970s, follows four individuals as they transition from active service into the civilian world.  Elizabeth Pepperhawk, an Army nurse, and Avivah Rosen, a former military policewoman are the main characters.  Both women struggle with what they saw and did during their years in service, and Elizabeth is burdened with a drinking problem.  First at Fort Bragg, and elsewhere in the state in later books, Elizabeth and Avivah, and their friend Benny Kirkpatrick, support each other, confront  the demons of their pasts and make new lives, even as they stumble into death and foul deeds.  The novels capture the flavor of the era and raise issues that are still with us today.

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Filed under 2000-2009, Mystery, Novels in Series, Series, Wildwind, Sharon

Sharon Wildwind. Missing, Presumed Wed.. Detroit: Five Star, 2009.

Weddings should be happy occasions, but in the week leading up to the union between Benny Kirkpatrick and Lorraine Fulford, Benny and Lorraine and their family and friends experience fear, anger, jealousy, regret, and shame.  It starts when Benny’s mother, Grace, is abducted at the Asheville airport in the presence of a young boy who will soon be one of Benny’s stepsons.  Grace reappears the next day, but when the man who abducted her turns up dead, Grace and her husband become suspects.  It seems that Benny’s parents knew the dead man when they all lived in Alaska in the 1940s.  As the novel unfolds, readers learn that the dead man was one dirty dog and that other characters–including the bride–had reason to wish him dead.  While policewoman Avivah Rosen works on the case, her friend Elizabeth Pepperhawk attempts to smooth jangled nerves even as her composure and sobriety are tested by her relationship with the man in her life, Colonel Darby Baxter.

In Presumed Wed a large cast of characters flow into and out of the action.  It’s 1974 and the war in Vietnam, illicit Irish Republican Army fundraising, and the social ferment of the era, especially the women’s movement, figure in the plot and color the character’s inner lives.  The rich portrayal of this era is an element that adds depth to the Elizabeth Pepperhawk/Avivah Rosen mysteries.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Buncombe, Madison, Mountains, Novels in Series, Wildwind, Sharon

Mark de Castrique. Blackman’s Coffin. Scottsdale, AZ: Poisoned Pen Press, 2008.

Chief Warrant Officer Sam Blackman lost a leg in the Iraq War and, after testifying in Congress about the treatment of veterans, was sent where they figured he wouldn’t be able to cause any more trouble: Asheville, NC.  He is almost finished with his rehab when a local woman visits him and offers him a job with her security company.  She promises to visit again, but is murdered before she can do so.  After her death, a diary written by 12 year-old Henderson Youngblood in 1919 is found hidden in her apartment … and Sam’s name is on it.  Sam leaves the VA hospital and begins his civilian life by helping the deceased woman’s sister investigate the modern crime and its connections to a death in the diary.  This is the first book in de Castrique’s series of mysteries featuring the Sam Blackman character.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Buncombe, deCastrique, Mark, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series

Clay Harvey. A Flash of Red. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1996.

While Tyler Vance is in the drive-through for his local bank one day, a fleeing bank robber points a gun at him and demands he hand over his truck.  In that instant, Vance’s unique, deadly, and very secret military training takes over.  He shoots and kills the robber, not knowing that the dead man has some “family” ties to international drug dealers, gun runners, and racketeers.  Tyler’s life as a freelance writer, recent widower, and single father quickly turns dangerous as the mobster’s connections try to exact vengeance upon him.  He turns to friends, family, and old army connections for help surviving the attacks and keeping his son safe.  Author Clay Harvey, like main character Vance, lives in North Carolina and writes articles and books about guns.  A Flash of Red is the first book in Harvey’s series about Vance.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 1990-1999, 1996, Harvey, Clay, Mecklenburg, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship, Suspense/Thriller

Joyce Marie Taylor. Aniratak. New York: iUniverse, 2007.

Ocracoke Island is always a good setting for a story about loners, misfits, and star-crossed lovers.  In this book, Ocracoke is called Blackie’s Landing.  Andy McBride, a World War II veteran and former world traveler, retreated to Blackie’s Landing in the mid-1950s.  It’s now 1969.  Andy has made some friends on the island, especially young Bobby Ainsworth, but Andy is slipping into melancholy and heavy drinking.  When a fierce winter storm strands a mainland girl on the island, she takes refuge at Andy’s house. Andrea Bonelli is the best thing that has happened to Andy in a very long time.  She edits and types his memoirs, shakes him out of his self-pity, and shows him how he might regain the woman who was love of his life.  Bobby Ainsworth helps with this too, and in the end all the characters find the love and acceptance that they had been missing.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Coast, Hyde, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Taylor, Joyce Marie

Nicholas Sparks. The Lucky One. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2008.

This is one of those stranger-comes-to-town tales, but since it’s a Nicholas Sparks novel, it’s also a romance.  Logan Thibault is a veteran who believes that a photograph that he found in Iraq is his lucky charm.  When he comes back to the states, he searches for the woman in the photograph.  She is Elizabeth, a divorced mom living in Hampton, near the North Carolina coast. Elizabeth’s grandmother runs a dog training facility in town, where Thibault soon gets a job.  Thibault, a veteran of many battles during his years in the Marines, has his demons, and his interest in Elizabeth can be misconstrued.  Elizabeth’s ex-husband, Keith Clayton, sets out to discredit Logan.  The conflict between Thibault and Clayton builds, putting Elizabeth and her son Ben in danger.  In a raging storm the men battles for their lives, and for Ben’s.  Thibault’s dog, Zeus, helps to save the day.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Coastal Plain, Romance/Relationship, Sparks, Nicholas