In World War 1 they called it “shell shock” in Wold War ll they called it “battle fatigue”, and now they refer to it as” PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)” but whatever the label it was definitely clear after WWI that not all wounds were physical. I bet there were more than a few traumatized soldiers who would have liked to punch Friedrich Nietzsche in the nose — that would be the pinhead who came up with “that which does not kill us makes us stronger” um, I don’t think so. (actually Nietzsche died in1900) My point is that a lot of men came home from this war at a time when mental problems were considered weaknesses and instead of receiving much needed support they were shunned and stigmatized. Some men left for the war as strong, self-sufficient, family breadwinners—-and returned as broken versions of themselves and a burden to their loved ones. Many of the survivors returned with missing limbs and many had compromised lungs from the mustard gas. At times it was a sad “welcome home” after 5 years of hell to find no job vacancies. Many of the novels that grace these pages cover some of these atrocities and more. These pages are my tribute to mystery series set during WW1 and its aftermath. Many of these mysteries have their roots in WW1, even if they are being investigated many years later.
“THE RETURN OF CAPTAIN JOHN EMMETT” by Elizabeth Speller (Houghton, Miffin, Harcourt 2012) Lawrence Bertram series #1. . Lawrence Bertram is having difficulty adjusting to a “normal” life after the war especially since he has recently lost his wife and infant son. Into his life comes the sister of his childhood friend asking him to look into her brother’s suicide. His investigation leads him to his old friend’s army buddies and he finds things more complicated than he originally imagined. This is an interesting mystery with a likable main character. I would like to mention the sad but lovely prologue featuring the wives, mothers, children, sweethearts and relatatives of lost soldiers watching the train carrying “The Unknown Soldier” to his final resting place in London.The crowds were silent or quietly sobbing , each person wondering if that could be my boy!!! The second book in the series is called “The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton” (Houton, Miffin, Harcourt 2013) In this book Lawrence finds himself in a village that has been totally wiped out of young, able bodied men. So far there are only two books in the series but Elizabeth Speller released a stand-alone novel about WW1 this year called ‘THE FIRST OF JULY’. (Pegasus, 2014) and this novel is set in the trenches. I will not comment on this novel because I have not read it.
I had hoped to cover more series in this post but I kind of yammered on a bit. I have more so I will release a new post in the next couple of days. It will be Part 3!