We Shall Not Sleep
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The depth and passion of Perry's fifth and final volume in her acclaimed WWI series won't disappoint readers who have followed this engrossing and moving tale from its inception with No Graves as Yet. In the last days of the war, the Reavley family—Joseph, an army chaplain; his brother, Matthew, an officer in the Secret Intelligence Service; and their sister, Judith, an ambulance driver—find themselves together in the mud, blood and trenches of Flanders. Throughout the series, the three have been locked in a deadly struggle with someone they call the Peacemaker, who they believe is a high government official who had their parents murdered in his quest to involve England in an odious peace effort with Germany. A breakthrough arrives with a German officer who's willing to go to England and reveal to the authorities the identity and mission of the Peacemaker, though the family must first solve the mystery of a murdered nurse before unmasking the Peacemaker. At the finish, Perry neatly and satisfactorily ties up all the loose ends from the preceding novels. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
In the fifth and final entry in Perry's World War I series, the war is drawing to a close. British intelligence officer Matthew Reavley has received word that a high-ranking German defector is willing to identify the Peacemaker, the man who has been undermining Britain's war effort and is responsible for the death of Reavley's parents. As Matthew travels to Ypres, his brother, Joseph, a chaplain, and his sister, Judith, an ambulance driver, prepare to help him bring a swift resolution to the family tragedy that has haunted them for years. But when a young nurse is viciously murdered and Matthew is charged with the crime, Joseph and Judith must find the real killer so that Matthew can complete his mission. In contrast to the previous entries in the series, there is little action here and much talk--about what the war has cost the soldiers in terms of their humanity, the changing roles of women, and the elusive search for love and peace of mind. Still, the many fans of the series will be anxious to know how it ends. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Romances left me cold.
History was accurate and interesting. Character portrayal was excellent.
Simply not enough meat for a book. Could have added new content to the previous book in the sequel.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It is now November 1918, years into a war that was only supposed to last months. And the war is coming to end. Members of the Reavley family --- Joseph, the army chaplain; his brother Matthew, the Secret Intelligence Service officer; and their sister Judith, the ambulance driver --- are together under dire circumstances as they strive to unmask the Peacemaker. They now have the means to find out exactly who he is and bring him to light. The Peacemaker has already cost them their parents, friends and others of importance to England.
A messenger dressed as a Swiss priest comes to see Matthew with news. They now have an ally against the Peacemaker in Germany. This man, Manfred von Schenckendorff, is willing to come across enemy lines to London and expose the Peacemaker to tell the Prime Minister. His own country will be betrayed by this decision, but he hopes his defection will help with the peace process. When Matthew is asked where Manfred should come through on the Western Front, Matthew sends him to Yrpes where Joseph is stationed. When Matthew tells Joseph what he knows, Joseph can hardly believe it and questions if it's true.
The Peacemaker has big plans for England, Germany and Europe. He has argued that the greater end justifies the smaller ugliness of his means. And he reminds the war reporter Mason of just that point when he visits. Mason takes this philosophy to mean that the Peacemaker had used means that he despised, which allows Mason to continue to sympathize with him.
Mason has been a supporter of the Peacemaker's plans because of the horrors they both experienced in the Boer War. Mason returns to the Western Front to report on the end of the war and renews his acquaintance with Judith Reavley. He has come to realize that the Peacemaker is an armchair warrior using other people's blood for his own purposes. In this case, the Peacemaker's plan is one of domination of the Western World by governments who believe as the Peacemaker does.
Meanwhile, Manfred arrives in Ypres with a bayonet injury to his foot. As Joseph and Matthew wait to take him to England, a nurse is murdered. She was a flirt and not well liked; anyone could have killed her. Was it a German prisoner? Or one of their own soldiers?
A civil policeman investigates, and the commanding officer requests Joseph's help. However, when Matthew is arrested for her murder, Joseph and Judith work together to find the real killer. In their race against time to get Manfred to London, they find evidence that frees Matthew --- only to have Manfred arrested. As they dig deeper, the private lives of the nurses and troops lead them to uncover the murderer.
With the murder solved, the three Reavleys, along with Manfred and now Mason, borrow an ambulance in order to catch a boat for London. Perils await them as they make the trip, but they arrive to see the Prime Minister. They have the necessary evidence, testimony and knowledge to identify and make their case against the Peacemaker.
Anne Perry has honored this time in history with her series. The struggles portrayed by the characters --- both those of impeccable character and those who are flawed --- are memorable. The overall series mystery of the Peacemaker's identity keeps readers on the edge of their chairs all the way to the end. The underlying tensions of a world at war bring to the audience an awareness of the costs of war, government decisions during chaotic times and the toll on humankind. WE SHALL NOT SLEEP (along with the entire series) will stay on this reviewer's shelf and is definitely worth a yearly read.
--- Reviewed by Jennifer McCord
Joseph, the older son is a military chaplain, Matthew the intellegence officer, and Judith, the youngest, is an ambulance driver. (The other sister, Hannah stays home to take care of her children while her husband is in the Navy).
The Reavleys get a break when a German official sees that the Peacemaker needs to be brought down. Matthew comes to the front to get him, and they (the Reavelys) get involved in solving a nurse's murder. They have to go to London to take the German to Lloyd George, the PM, to end the conflict.
This book ties up all the series' loose ends. It is not action packed, but it does answer every question and characters' fates posed in the series, and that is very rewarding.
Still the beauty of Perry's words and the atmosphere she creates are the forefront of this book. Will miss the series, although look forward to the Monk and Pitt series again.
For the Reavleys, the war has been more than just a conflict. Their parents, John and Alys, were murdered on the day when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, and the great European powers were drawn into a massive war that took a terrible toll in human lives and toppled empires. In John's possession was a document that would have brought a lasting peace, but the price would have been a terrible one. Now his children -- Joseph, Matthew and Judith -- are struggling to find the identity of the person behind their parents' murder, known only as The Peacemaker.
Joseph has spent the last five years as a chaplain on the front lines in Belguim, trying to save what lives he can by bringing back the wounded from the front, and giving what comfort he can to the dying. In addition to what he has seen in the midst of battle, he has some deeply rooted scars from his past that still simmer. Working alongside him as an ambulance driver is his youngest sister, Judith, who has proven herself again and again, facing the same shortages as everyone else, and the same dangers. Matthew is working in London as an intellegence officer, desperately trying to find the truth about the Peacemaker.
Now it is November 1918. The Germans are still fighting, but thousands of them are putting down their weapons and surrendering. The war could be over in a matter of months or even days. But there are still plenty of dangers for all of them -- the British soldiers are roughing up the Germans, and tempers are getting frayed and ugly. In London, Matthew recieves a surprising offer -- the Peacemaker's counterpart in Germany is willing to come and reveal the identity of the Peacemaker, without any conditions. For it seems the Peacemaker has come up with an even more appalling plan -- he wants to continue the war, creating a never ending war, and reviving the German empire from the ashes.
To complicate matters, one of the nurses, Gwen Price, has been found brutally murdered, her naked body flung on a rubbish heap. Joseph is called upon to find who did it, but before he can unravel the mystery, the German officer with the information appears, and is charged with the murder. To complicate matters, his brother Matthew, who has arrived to escort the officer and the valuable information back to London is also arrested for the crime.
There are quite a few red herrings and subplots that are being wrapt up in this book. Lizzie Blaine, from a previous novel, reappears, forcing Joseph to contemplate a life beyond the endless warfare, and so has Richard Mason, the war correspondent that Judith has become close to. Along the way there are vivid descriptions of life and especially death on the Western front, with all of the attendant misery, mud, filth and lost lives.
While the ending is a bit too pat, all of the loose ends are tidied up, and there's even a promise of happiness in the future, short lived as we living in the here and now will know it will be. Perry manages to pack an awful lot of action into the space of a few days, all of it moving at a near breakneck speed. In between all of that, she has her characters endlessly thinking about the past, what is happening now, and what they can do to stop the onrushing disaster that will happen if they can't stop the Peacemaker.
In fact, it's that rumination and raking over the past that caused me the greatest amount of annoyance with the story. Over and over, Ms Perry tells us once again the how and why and who the Peacemaker has murdered -- just as she had done in the previous four novels. It gets tiresome, and assumes that the reader has the attention span of a rabid gerbil. It does very little to push the story along, and instead slows it down very much.
Now that I've completed reading the series, some thoughts overtook me. Perry has managed to do something very different than her ongoing series set in the Victorian World. For one, these five books have a definate begining and end, and she lets her main characters mature, instead remaining the static observers of the mysteries. Everyone in this one makes mistakes, rash decisions, and moves forward in their thinking and maturity. I do hope that Ms. Perry will continue along with sort of writing, and expanding beyond the 'whodunit' novel.
Another valid point is that Ms. Perry is very much a pacificist, and she draws comparisons to the warfare of the 1910's with our own modern times, and while it does take a strong stomach to read some of her descriptions of death and humans caught up in misery, she does it without getting too preachy about it.
Overall, the series gets about a four star rating. It's better than most novels set in World War One, and she works very hard to capture the feel and nature of warfare that is brutal even by modern standards. One caveat is that the series really does need to be read in order, as so much of the narrative relies on what has gone on before.
If you want something different than the usual rah-rah valiant hero in the middle of chaos of war, then this series should satisfy. While I doubt that I will ever reread these in the future, they are an excellent series of books, and worth the effort to get through.
Four stars. Recommended.