Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Salute to Veterans

Two real-life American heroes: Serena and Michael Bowen, on Michael’s first night at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. While working as a medic in Iraq, Michael was severely injured by an unknown chemical. He now works as a nurse in Leesburg, Va., where he was named Inova Nurse of the Year. Despite the honors and accolades, Michael and Serena still deal daily with the medical consequences of Michael’s war-related injury. Photo courtesy of the Bowen family.

A Salute to Veterans

By Kathie Felix

We can read -- and write -- in peace, quiet and freedom, thanks to the countless sacrifices made by the members of our military and their loved ones. Today’s Veterans Day observance provides the perfect opportunity to thank the veterans in our communities – and their families and caregivers. The day also offers a good reason to celebrate the key role of war veterans in our favorite genre.

Many of us may have encountered our first veteran-related mystery in “Cherry Ames: Veterans’ Nurse,” by Helen Wells, now reissued and available in ebook editions for devices such as the Kindle and Nook.

Those early reading days also most likely brought John H. Watson, M.D. into our world view. Dr. Watson, the first-person narrator of nearly all of the Sherlock Holmes stories, was an Army surgeon and veteran of military campaigns in India and Afghanistan.

And, of course, many of us soon encountered Hercule Poirot’s associate, Captain Arthur Hastings, a veteran World War I British Army officer, as we explored Agatha Christie’s work.

Turning toward more recent escapades in reading, any list of veteran-related mystery and crime fiction might include:

The Joe Sandilands series by Barbara Cleverly, featuring World War I veteran Joe Sandilands.

The Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear, featuring Maisie Dobbs, who enlists for overseas nursing duties in World War I and works as an investigator in the post-war world.

The Bulldog Drummond series by Sapper/H.C. McNeile, featuring Hugh “Bulldog” Drummond, a World War I veteran.

The Jack Haldean series by Dolores Gordon-Smith featuring mystery writer and former World War I Royal Flying Corps pilot Jack Haldean.

The Easy Rawlins series by Walter Mosley featuring World War II veteran Easy Rawlins.

The Mike Hammer series by Mickey Spillane featuring WWII veteran Mike Hammer. The television series starring Stacy Keach “updated” Mike to a Vietnam veteran.

The Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald featuring Korean War veteran Travis McGee.

The John Marshall Tanner series by Stephen Greenleaf featuring John Marshall Tanner, originally a Korean War veteran, who was “updated” to become a Vietnam veteran.

The Dave Robicheaux series by James Lee Burke featuring Vietnam veteran Dave Robicheaux.

The Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly featuring Vietnam veteran Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch.

The Sam Blackman series by Mark de Castrique, featuring Sam Blackman, a veteran of the current war in Iraq.

Among the recent single-title veteran-related releases:

“All Things Undying,” by Marcia Talley, the latest entry in the Hannah Ives series, finds Hannah lending a hand to locate the grave of a World War II serviceman.

“Murder to Mil-Spec,” edited by Tony Burton, a 12-story anthology with a focus on veterans or those still in the service. The publisher, Wolfmont Press, is donating all profits to Homes for our Troops, a nonprofit organization that retrofits existing homes or builds new homes for disabled veterans.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of veteran-related mystery and crime fiction. What’s on your Veterans Day reading list?

The contributors to this list include David E. Autry, Deputy National Director of Communications, Disabled American Veterans; Kathie Felix, SinC BlogSister and C. Ellett Logan, SinC/Chesapeake Chapter President.


Paul Davis said...

You can also add Ian Fleming's James Bond thrillers to your list.

Bond, who fought Nazis, Soviets and criminals in Ian Fleming's novels, was, like his creator, a Royal Navy Commander and World War II veteran.

Paul Davis

Kathie Felix said...

Thanks, Paul.

And, of course, there's the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child. Reacher, a veteran of the U.S. Army military police, seems to have come up against nearly everyone who needed to be brought into line during his 13 years or so of military service.

Judy said...

I enjoy reading James R Benn's WW 2's series featuring "Uncle Ike's" wartime detective Billy Boyle.
Judy in California
aka Judith Klerman Smith
(wife of a Vietnam Vet)

Kathie Felix said...

And thinking about crime fiction authors on the front lines: Mary Roberts Rinehart, the first woman war correspondent, comes to mind.

Marcia Talley said...

And Agatha Christie worked in a hospital during WW1.

Barb Goffman said...

Thanks, Kathie, for this important post, and thanks for mentioning Murder to Mil-Spec. It's wonderful that Wolfmont Publishing is donating all its profits from this military anthology to a charity that helps veterans. Half of the anthology's stories come from SinC members: Terrie Farley Moran, Elizabeth Zelvin, Howard B. Carron, S.M Harding, Diana Catt, and me. My story, "An Officer and a Gentleman's Agreement," involves a veteran and an active-duty soldier. It was a challenge to write. I'm glad I did it.