Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: Headline
Release Date: September 2004
ISBN: 0755302869
Format Reviewed: Hardback
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Genre:   Historical Mystery
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Rachel A Hyde
Reviewer Notes:  Battle scenes

Shoulder The Sky
By Anne Perry

       Last year Anne Perry turned her attention to writing a new quintet of novels set during the First World War and the wonderfully poignant No Graves As Yet is also reviewed on this site. Now it is 1915 and the war has started, and Joseph Reavley is serving as a chaplain at the Front, while his younger brother Matthew still works back in London for Intelligence. As if morale isn’t low enough, soon Joseph has a new problem to contend with in the shape of young war correspondent Eldon Prentice. Prying into things that don’t concern him and insensitive to the woes of life in the Trenches, he soon has plenty of enemies. But when he is found dead without a mark on him out in No Man’s Land, Joseph guesses that it was his own side that killed him. Meanwhile, Matthew is trying to find out the identity of the Peacemaker, and sister Judith is in love with an unsuitable man.

     Short of a time machine, Anne Perry’s descriptions of life at the Front are probably as close as it gets. Scenes of hardship and warfare are balanced out with tales of the camaraderie and bravery, and a teasing plot stops this book from getting too harrowing. This is still very much a tale of mystery and adventure with some thrilling scenes in the latter half of the book, linked both with the Peacemaker side of the plot and various moral dilemmas. In short, there is a lot packed in between these covers and at the end I felt that I had read at least two books, even though this novel isn’t actually very long. As with the first installment of the series I feel that Anne Perry’s work has come of age, and has moved beyond a straightforward whodunit (although her books were always more than that) to a novel that is more than just a thriller. Multi-layered and at times almost literary, by turns sensitive or thrilling this ought to appeal to both sexes and a wide range of different tastes. This is one of the most enjoyable and thought-provoking books I’ve read all year.