watches of the night
Ben Reese is a university archivist, who was a behind-the-lines scout in WWII. The death and disaster in Watches Of The Night does grow out of American history - the scientific Tech Teams America and Britain sent into Nazi territory during (and after) WWII to gather science and technology, plus the dedication of postal workers in US dead letter offices who spend years (literally) trying to deliver defaced or incorrectly addressed mail.

The plot of Wataches is woven from both. A damaged package with unsavory contents, lost in 1944, gets hand delivered in 1961 to the American widow of a Scottish paratrooper killed at the battle of Arnhem, and is tied, unexpectedly, to Ben Reese, who's shown in flashbacks leading a Tech Team in 1945 behind-the-lines to a German scientific installation - then coming to grips, in 1962, with his memories of that mission and his thirst to avenge the dead.

The two threads lead to murder in Scotland in 1962, as the story moves from Ben's Ohio university to Woodstock, New York, and Lexington, Kentucky, to Scotland and to Tuscany, while Ben does his work as an archivist restoring a pioneer mural in Lexington and searching for a very rare book in northern Italy.

It's his wounded horse, Max, though, who helps Ben climb out of his closed quiet tightly-contained self and get past the death of his wife. Max and the widow who got the grisly package.
Read A Review:

University archivist Ben Reese was a scout in World War II. Kate Lindsay, a longtime friend, receives a package 20 years after it was mailed. It contains the eye of her husband killed in World War II. Ben served with her husband.

Ben and Kate set out to discover the identity of the sender and why it was sent. A person from the past hunts Ben and the memories of war.

The story jumps back and forth from the 1960s to 1945. While I'm sure the author did a great job portraying the war scenes, I didn't read them as I am just not into history. I love Ben and Kate, though. Their chemistry and detecting skills are terrific. I like how they work together and build off each other even through great distances between them.

I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading more in this series.

Dawn Dowdle

Watches of the Night is the fifth Ben Reese mystery series. Ben Reese is an archivist at a private Ohio college. He served in Europe during World War Two, which provides a rich, intense backdrop to this tale, which is set at the end of 1961. Long time fans of Sally Wright know that her hero, Ben, was in the army and wounded. Readers picking up Watches of the Night as a first experience of the series may feel as if walking in on the middle of a conversation between comfortable old friends. We learn through bits of scenes set back in 1945 on the Western front of Ben’s experiences during the war, and particularly of some of the atrocities he witnessed by men on his own side. These crimes haunt him. Kate Lindsay, a widow of a friend of Ben’s from that era, receives a shocking package that had been lost in the post for sixteen years. Her curiosity leads her to track down the sender, who was found dead the day before she arrived to visit him in the asylum. She calls upon her friend Ben to help her learn more about the man and his family. The discoveries set in motion an ever unraveling picture of crimes dating back to World War Two, but eventually lead Ben to closure for his pain.

Wright’s intimate details create settings which feel as though the reader can walk right into them. Ohio, Italy, the Welsh coast, and a mental hospital in Great Britain are presented naturally. Her characters are menacing or charming, devious or appropriately withdrawn. Wright’s habit of shifting time and place and head can be a bit disconcerting until the reader adapts. About half way through the book her cast of old friends listed in the front became appreciated.

Watches of the Night was an engaging journey into the past.

Lisa Lickel