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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Unlikely Soldiers, Book 4: Murder & Mayhem is a military fiction novel written by Deb McEwan. Sergeant Mouse Halfpenny was ready to start a new phase of her life. Germany held too many memories of her and the loss of her husband, Sergeant Guy Halfpenny, and their dog still seemed so terribly vivid in her mind, even two years after the fact. Yes, Guy’s friends and the people she knew in the Sergeants' Mess were family and had been so supportive of her through the worst of her grieving, but she wanted a posting to Hong Kong, where her brother, his wife and her young niece were stationed. When Captain Longthorn told her of an opening for a PA for the Deputy Commander of the British Forces in Hong Kong, Brigadier Harding-Brown, Mouse began to feel a glimmer of hope. She was even willing to take on the three-month course in short-hand that the position would require. Mouse would eventually get that posting to Hong Kong though it did take some machinations she ordinarily would have resisted. But it was past time for her to begin living again; Guy would not want her to remain sad and alone for the rest of her life.
Unlikely Soldiers takes the reader on a journey into the not-so-distant past when Hong Kong was still a colony of the United Kingdom. I loved experiencing the culture through Mouse’s eyes and especially enjoyed following her as she puzzled out the connection between the murder of Chinese Pete, whose body she discovered in the dining room in the mess in Germany, and an ongoing investigation in Hong Kong. McEwan’s story reads like historical fiction and indeed I discovered the author had served in postings in England, Germany, and Hong Kong as a PA in the late 1980s and 1990s. Mouse’s experiences take on vivid life from the author’s own history, and it makes the story feel so real. Mouse’s frustrations with the limitations imposed upon women in the military at that time are also eloquently shared. Mouse wants more than a job in a shop, and her investigative talents shine out in the streets of Hong Kong where the exotic and the dangerous seem so inextricably linked. Deb McEwan’s characters are authentic and credible, and her plot is fast-paced and exciting. I’ve enjoyed each book in this outstanding series and Murder & Mayhem is no exception. Seeing Mouse pick up the pieces after Guy’s death and blaze a trail into her future is an enthralling ride. Unlikely Soldiers, Book 4: Murder & Mayhem is most highly recommended.