Mystery writer Judy Clemens does a great job of suspense in her new novel, Lost Sons, a paperback published by Herald Press, Scottdale, PA in 2008. The story follows the fictional life of Stan Windemere, a retired police detective. For two long months, he and his wife, Rose, have been waiting to hear word about their son, a naval officer recently MIA while serving in Russia. Their marriage is strained as the couple tries to cope with the tragedy.
The stress also makes Stan unable to continue with his detective job on the force, so to keep busy, he takes a job as a security guard with the Mennonite Central Committee office in Goshen, Indiana. While there, he learns about the real life disappearance of MCC worker Clayton Kratz in the fall of 1920, in the same area of Russia where his son is currently MIA. Stan becomes obsessed with trying to discover what has happened to Kratz. This creates tension with his wife because of her dislike of Mennonites. Rose sees the Mennonites as the enemy. Their son was involved with a Mennonite girl before his disappearance. This girl turned down his proposal due to her belief that war is wrong. A war protest at Goshen College also fuels Rose's feelings of betrayal and raises the issue of how our peace stance can be sometimes misunderstood.
I like the way the author intertwines this fictional story of Stan's son with the true account of the disappearance of Clayton Kratz. Someone unfamiliar with the work of MCC would be able to learn much from this book. As a Goshen College graduate, Clemens uses her familiarity with the area to create a very believable story. She constructs her characters in such a way that I really care about them.
In this story, each family has lost a son. Both families suffer their loss with the added stress of not knowing the circumstances of these disappearances. The dramatic conclusion to this story brings empathy and understanding beyond our convictions. Clemens raises questions about our witness for peace and its effect on the loved ones of those serving with their lives in our military.
In Lost Sons, Rose sends a letter to the editor of the local newspaper in response to her outrage about the war protesters. The professor of peace studies at Goshen College arranges a meeting with her and the result is this joint letter: "We decided to work together to share our passions. To see how together we can make peace in the world. For if we can't make peace here at home, how can we expect our children--here or abroad--to do it. (We) understand more deeply now that we want the same things: peace in the world, a safe place for our children, and a sense of security."
Reviewed by Rose Zook. Rose likes to refer to her vocation as a "stay-at-home grandma." She and her husband of 36 years have four grandchildren. She enjoys reading good Christian works both fiction and nonfiction. Quilt creation is another interest, especially in miniature. Music holds a special place also, both vocal and instrumental.