Under Fire

Written by Linda Shenton Matchett
Review by B. J. Sedlock

In 1942 Ruth Brown watches her sister’s empty coffin being lowered into the ground. Ruth refuses to believe Jane is dead; after all, the body hasn’t been found. A society reporter for a small New Hampshire newspaper, Ruth decides to use her reporting skills to investigate what happened to Jane. She learns that Jane was in conflict with the union at the factory where she performed war work. The union men refused to let women join and would sometimes sabotage their work. Ruth discovers that union steward Roger Clark dated Jane for a time and comes to suspect that he knows something about Jane’s death.

When Clark leaves for England to accompany a shipment of war materials, Ruth has her editor and her officer brother Chip pull some strings to get her a flight to England, where she can report stories about the war and continue her quest to find out what happened to Jane by tailing Clark. Her doggedness gets her mixed up with a German resistance fighter, the IRA, and a smuggling ring.

Under Fire is an inspirational novel; part of the plot involves Ruth’s anger at God over Jane’s fate, while resisting the attempts of other characters to convince her to trust in God and have faith. It’s also a “clean” mystery with no gore or sex, and only a bare hint of romance. Pluses: Ruth is a spunky and interesting character, one who struggles against 1940s expectations of women’s roles. Short chapters will propel readers onward. Minor minuses: Several important events take place off stage, which may frustrate some readers. The ending is rather abrupt, but a hint is given that Ruth’s story may continue in future volumes. Fans of inspirational fiction, mystery, and World War II will like this novel.