The Ben Reese series
Publish and Perish
Pride and Predator
Pursuit and Persuasion
Out of the Ruins
Watches of the Night
Code of Silence
Watches Of The Night
Published June 2008.
Available for Kindle
“Wright tells Ben’s story and unravels the mystery by shifting back and forth between the 1960s and 1945, following first Kate and Ben’s investigation and then Ben’s memories. The effect is perfect for building suspense.”
In 1962, in Watches Of The Night (the completed fifth book), thirty-eight year old Ben Reese has to hunt down an American Tech Team officer whom he'd met in WWII (and suspected then of murdering an American soldier) after a woman friend of Ben's receives a damaged package. Lost in 1944, it's hand delivered in 1961 by a conscientious postman from a U.S. Dead Letter Office. The package contains a preserved eye that belonged to Kate's long dead paratrooper husband, which leads Ben and Kate to search for the Scottish sender. His murder takes Ben back where he doesn't want to go -- to his own war, to his own sense of guilt for not having stopped the Tech Team leader after the Battle Of The Bulge, to his own hunger to revenge the dead, even though he knows in his soul personal revenge is wrong. Ben tracks the killer from Lexington to Woodstock, to Scotland and Tuscany -- finally, to save Kate.
This is the first Ben Reese with direct scenes from World War II. They show people and events often referred to in the first four books: Ben's experiences as a scout in the war; the firefight in which he was wounded; his flight to a hospital in Paris, strapped under a Piper Cub, which ultimately saved his life; his relationship with his fiancé; his fear of marriage if he's permanently disabled; his decision, finally, to make her the wife we see him mourning in the first four books; his search for God while in the hospital that leads him to read the holy books of the world's great religions, then make a decision that takes him home.
I really enjoyed doing the science and renaissance art research for Watches Of The Night, as well as that on the Tech Teams the U.S. and Britain sent into German occupied territory during and after WWII. I also loved studying the settings, and wandering around them myself - especially Tuscany in the middle of March when the winter here in Ohio seemed entirely too gray and relentless. Trying to fit all the pieces together – archival, historical, personal – and layer them into a plot that made sense of them kept me intrigued, and scrambling too, the whole time I worked on the book.
But I was most moved personally by writing the scenes of Ben in WWII. The way he was wounded in the Saarbrucken Forest, and got back to the States alive, to face years of surgeries and rehabilitation is exactly what happened – exactly - to the real-life archivist/ex-WWII scout on whom I’ve based Ben.
Describing it accurately meant a lot to me, and, I think, to him as well. He doesn’t talk about the war (except with his wife, and with me for the books). He deliberately put those years behind him, and set out to make a life for himself that would help a lot of people quietly from the archival edge of academe. His English professor wife, who (like Jessie) was with him in the hospital, has mentored her own students as deliberately as he did. Which means that even today, when they’ve been retired for years, not too many days go by when a now middle-aged ex-student doesn’t write, or phone, or visit because of how much the two of them meant when it mattered most.
When he told me a couple of years ago that helping me with the books has given him some sense of closure on the war, I realized right then, that regardless of how I’d looked at it before, writing every Ben Reese book has been worth the time and effort for that reason alone.
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