Send The Word is part of Hockenberry’s World War One Intrigue series, set during the end of World War One, centering on the actions of U.S. Army Captain Gil Martin, his best friend Lieutenant Paul Keller (an army intelligence assistant and long-term partner on the Bomb Squad), and his wife, Shannon Tunney Keller. She works in New York City with the New York City Police Department’s elite Bomb Squad unit and detective bureau and does her part from home, never quite knowing if she’ll soon be a widow.
They are intelligence officers on the Western Front who struggle to identify an assassin who has targeted General Pershing, and secret betrayers who would thwart the efforts of the Allies in the midst of battle.
A recap of the history of Spring 1918 real-world events is needed, and is provided in an introduction which sets the stage for their actions. This assures that readers need no prior background in World War I military events to understand the nuances and struggles presented in this novel.
The story opens as the German army overwhelms the British front. Shannon is a confident woman in a man’s world, joining fellow female suffragettes in shedding the vestiges of female oppression, from clothing to attitudes.
Her current investigation of a Tammany Hall case involving corruption is shadowed by wider-ranging concerns as her new husband, Detective Paul Keller, becomes a member of Army Intelligence and an untested lieutenant on the Western Front.
As Martin and Keller strain to unravel a plot that could change the course of the war, Shannon faces her own struggles at home. She’s kept informed by letters from Gil and develops insights into the costs this war has demanded of everyone she knows.
When events turn tragic and Martin must face the fact that Paul is likely dead, his feelings of failure grow. The only things that seem set to survive this struggle are a locket, a promise, and love.
James Hockenberry does an excellent job of juxtaposing the backdrop of a European front embroiled in battle and subterfuge with the concurrent life of a proactive woman who faces her own mission at home.
He is especially strong at describing the environment of the battlefield and the struggles soldiers faced both within themselves and during their experiences: “Exhausted, wet, and furious, Keller received word that the 79th Division attacks were halted for the night. Preparations should be made to continue them the next morning. With the respite, he had time to realize he had suffered numerous wounds. None serious if tended. All he could do was bandage himself and wait. Maybe he was already in Hell and didn’t know it.”
The actual history intersects with the fictional story of Shannon’s own special charge of thwarting a dangerous plot on the home front, and is seamlessly presented as well as accurately represented: “Maybe issues of life and death are not as black and white as they seem. Did her husband feel the same way about his fight?”
As questions arise on both sides about the costs of these efforts, historical fiction readers (especially those interested in World War I backdrops) will find Send The Word an outstanding interplay of demanding scenarios, intrigue, and strong characters who each grow their personalities from their special challenges.
The intrigue and action make for an involving story indeed, highly recommended for military history readers and those who like stories of strong women conducting their own effective operations on the home front.

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