10/21/15 REVIEW OF M. L. DOYLE’S THE GENERAL’S AMBITION
Given lemons, make lemonade. M. L. Doyle is no longer a Late Last Night Books blogger, so I’m taking advantage of our loss by reviewing her latest book, something I couldn’t have done while she was one of us. Whether in or out of uniform, press corps Army Sergeant Lauren Harper faces the problems of today’s Every Woman as she is drawn into a murder investigation. Her direct superior in the press corps, now divorced and without his family, imposes his affections upon her. He wants to marry her, rather than to be her best friend. Lauren once longed for this but thought it could never be. But is she in love with him now? Or is she in love with a British front-line soldier never before willing to let a woman worry about whether he will or will not return from each of his missions?
The general in charge of the American troops in Europe is shot while giving a press conference, and Lauren and her company go into crisis mode while the general lies in critical care, his recovery doubtful. The two men vying for Lauren’s affection sniff each other out and square off psychologically and, at moments, nearly come to blows.
Lauren objects to the chief crime investigator’s search for only the simplest and fastest way to close the case. She forces him to face the fact that no one can explain the shooter’s irrational break from years of stellar military service. The chief investigator refuses to think about conspiracy, while Lauren theorizes and—first with the resistance of her elite Brit admirer and then with his help—uncovers hints of hatred among the troops. What she reveals makes her the target of men capable of misdirecting their high-testosterone aggression.
M. L. Doyle characterizes herself as “writing about women in combat boots.” But you don’t need to care or know about the military in order to have a great time reading The General’s Ambition. The author does a wonderful job of drawing you into the family aspect, the comradery, of people in uniform, and she tells you just enough about military life to intrigue you. The General’s Ambition is an excellent, engrossing mystery, as well as a meaningful and accurate portrayal of the relationships between men and women on any playing field. One of my favorite lines in the book is, “You know how men are. A woman gets upset and they start acting like little boys.”
I highly recommend The General’s Ambition to all mystery readers and to readers of other fiction who enjoy an occasional first-rate mystery.The General’s Ambition is Doyle’s third Sergeant Lauren Harper mystery.