The beauty of fiction is it gives the writer an opportunity to write about multiple events over the course of a single story that ties them all together even it they didn’t happen all at once or to the same people.
The less than smooth exit from Afghanistan brought the realities of U.S. conflicts to the fore of the American public, or at least the media. But for me, I’d been thinking of it for some time particularly because many of the events depicted in the new Monk book, In the Service of Others, take place in Afghanistan.
The story is about what happened to Monk’s youngest brother, Jacob, while on tour in Afghanistan. Jacob is a Marine, and the consequences of what happened, not only to Jacob and his fellow Marines, but to Monk’s family, particularly Moses, Monk’s father, and the families of the other Marines, are the focus of the book. It also looks at how disconnected we are as a society from the people we task with protecting our national interests abroad. I think few Americans have any idea how stretched thin and how involved our military is in other countries affairs.
This is why I made Jacob a Marine (though I could have made him a solder). As someone who has military experience, I was in the Navy, I’ve noticed as veterans become a smaller and smaller proportion of the population, that more and more Americans are unfamiliar with people in the military and what military service means. What we hear of military action is through the limited lens of what the military releases and what the media covers.
Yet it is people, those in service, who bear the brunt of what goes on, whether we know of it or not. And war puts incredible pressures on those who fight. It is this that makes for interesting stories, both good and bad. Long conflicts, like Afghanistan, inevitably invite trauma, be it courageous, cowardly, honorable, or destructive. It’s said that war brings out the best and the worst in us, and I wanted to explore that, including that which we often turn away from, be it sexual assault, vigilantism, or murder.
These are big topics or themes.
And it is into this thicket I push Monk and his family and friends because governments rarely suffer any long-term harm, but the people affected by these events do. The people affected have to make sense of what’s happened and why it happened and how could someone they loved and cared for possibly be responsible for such monstrous acts while the rest of the world goes about its business.
In the Service of Others, a Monk Buttman Mystery (book 4) by David William Pearce available now.
©2021 David William Pearce