Veiled in Smoke (The Windy City Saga)

Written by Jocelyn Green
Review by J. Lynn Else

Meg and Sylvie Townsend have lost not only their home and business after the Great Fire of Chicago of 1871, but their father is also missing. A POW from the Civil War and suffering from “soldier’s heart,” Stephen Townsend flashes back to the war as the fire rages. He defends himself against what he perceives as Rebels, fending off people with the point of his gun. After the ashes clear and he’s reunited with his daughters, Stephen is arrested for murdering his best friend with his gun and is sent to the insane asylum. As Meg and Sylvie sift through the rubble of their beloved home and bookstore, they are offered grace, as well as a place to stay, from the most unlikely of places – the murdered man’s nephew. Prohibited from seeing their father, the women investigate the strange circumstances surrounding the friend’s death in the hope of proving Stephen’s innocence.

Jocelyn Green never makes it easy for her characters, who literally walk through fire in this book and come out wounded, heartbroken, unemployed, and homeless. The only thing left to them is their faith in God to help overcome their emotional and physical trials. The point of view switches between Sylvie, Meg, Stephen, and Nate (a reporter) as they come to terms with their new realities. Green explores Stephen’s PTSD sensitively, some moments within the asylum being the most emotionally charged in the storyline. The characters have captivating personalities that drive the plot forward and enrich relationship dynamics. The chaos and fear at that time in Chicago’s history are deftly penned. Actual headlines and news stories are layered into the narrative as well. This is a story of resilience, faith, and the human spirit. An extremely enjoyable, well-researched, and emotionally compelling tale. Recommended!