War is a fertile ground for most novelists, especially those who have lived it. Joseph Heller was a prime example with his brilliant, satirical novel, 'Catch 22'. What is it about bloody conflict that brings out the creativity in certain individuals?
'The Widow's Daughter', by Nicholas Edlin, is the story of Peter Sokol, a sixty-something artist residing in San Diego, who shares a quiet life with Missy, his companion. But when he learns about a novel written by a man with whom he served in New Zealand during World War 2, his past comes rushing back, and he soon finds himself on a journey to perhaps reestablish contact with the author. As he drives the long road to the lecture in UCLA (where, along the way, he meets a young man who is conflicted about serving in Vietnam), Peter remembers his time as a Marine surgeon stationed in Auckland, where the American forces were met with distrust and skepticism. Serving with him is his nemesis, an officer with whom he trained in medical school. It is there where they meet a mysterious English family, and both men fight for the affections of Emily, the beautiful, enigmatic daughter. When her brother is discovered murdered, Peter must fight to prove his innocence, and soon discovers that the woman he loves is not who she claims to be.
Mr. Edlin's research is impeccable, but it was the solid mystery that kept me turning the pages. The characters, which are so fully fleshed out, stayed bright in my mind until the very last page.
'The Widow's Daughter' has earned it's place on my shelf, right next to 'Atonement', 'A Bell for Adano', 'The Book Thief', and 'Catch 22', all classics in WW2 literature.