In this military milieu, Church—a Vietnam-era Navy veteran herself—does a remarkable job of keeping multiple plotlines running with clarity and power. Especially rich is Laury's fraught marriage with attorney Kate, complicated by his children from another woman. Equally good is the highly charged relationship between Robin and Chief Warrant Officer Dan Cisco. Throughout, Church demonstrates a good eye for the military base setting of the era, especially the winked-at sexism and harassment. The awkwardness of the positions faced by both female personnel and wives comes through again and again. Still, new readers should be aware that to fully appreciate the various developments here it's essential to read the quartet in order.
The most riveting of the many story lines involves Robin and Dan's investigation into the allegedly gay Rivitz, whose situation turns out to be more nuanced than they imagined. As the tale unwinds, Church also does a masterful job of depicting attitudes about homosexuality in a bygone era, including an introduction to "disco." Church spins a lively tale where motives are unclear in a vividly realized hothouse naval environment. The engaging characters and their detailed histories make this a satisfying capstone to a wide-ranging epic.
Takeaway: Fans of family dramas will cheer on the appealing Naval protagonists as they navigate a troubled period of American history.
Great for fans of: Siobhan Fallon, Colleen McCullough.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: B