best summer reads, best beach books, best literary mysteries, strong women, greatest generation, Texas, Hurtgen, putegnat, The Settling, new literary fiction
A thought-provoking novel that asks probing questions about human connection.
With deliberate pacing, the author unspools the stories of how the characters all came to be where they are in the present, yet he keeps the central mystery alive right up until the satisfying twist ending. Throughout, he emphasizes the future possibilities in his characters’ lives, not just the missed opportunities."
Reviewed By Deborah Lloyd
for Readers’ Favorite
In November 2004, Heinrich Finster strolled through Germany’s Hurtgen Forest, the site of vicious battles and thousands of deaths occurring sixty years earlier. Surprisingly, he found a skeleton wedged between two boulders, and realized the dog tags belong to an American soldier. The intriguing adventure continues in the small town of Huntsville, Texas, and the offices of the Army Awards and Decorations Branch, located in the Pentagon. Tom Campbell, an associate professor of history at Graffton College in Huntsville, is grappling with the death of his mostly-silent father – with the help of his sometimes girlfriend, Elly. Bob Vardis’ job at the Army office is investigating veterans’ claims of heroic acts. Author Michael Putegnat crafts an engaging story of intrigue, history and loving relationships in his novel, The Settling.
Although the story contains some complicated scenarios, such as the deciphering of coded information, there is an easy flow in its reading. The author skillfully lays out the plot in understandable and truly enjoyable ways. The characters are realistic, as snippets from their life experiences are woven into their current emotions and behaviors. Tom’s middle-class upbringing and his professorial history at Graffton, and Bob’s challenging work, have a great impact in their current efforts. The Settling by Michael Putegnat is a substantial novel, rich in authenticity and life’s challenges. The reader is pulled into the storyline from the first page, and is enthralled with the complex plot until the last page. There is adventure, mystery and discovery entwined throughout – a novel not to be missed!
Ellie Midwood's review
USA Today bestselling and award-winning historical fiction author
I love books that not only tell an entertaining story but make you think along the way. “The Settling” is one of such books.
It starts with a scene where an elderly man, searching the woods in Germany, stumbles across remains of a soldier with dog tags still intact around his neck, which date back to WWII. From there an incredibly enthralling story unravels, taking the reader to Texas where Tom Campbell, a history professor, learns about the death of his father, Charles Campbell. However, going through his father’s things, Tom and his girlfriend Elly find out that old Charlie might have had a secret which he only revealed to his journals, carefully coding his entries. Could it be that the newly found remains that a Pentagon official is investigating might have something in common with Charlie Campbell and his secret diary? I won’t give away anything else here so you can find out for yourselves.
I absolutely loved not only the components of mystery and an investigation that both Elly and Vardis, a Pentagon officer, were doing, but also deep psychological issues that each character had to deal with. The contradictory feelings of guilt and denial that torment Tom after the death of his father; his refusal to face real issues that cause him misery and blaming his father instead; his complicated relationship with Elly and how he finds his way back to happiness with the help of the story revealed in his father’s notes – all these issues were masterfully presented.
If you love deep and meaningful stories that are told in the most compelling way, this one is certainly for you. I couldn’t put it down. A fabulous read.
Joan Elliott Goodreads Reader
I was hooked from the first page of The Settling and fell in love with Charlie Campbell, whose death changes the lives of Putegnat's intriguing characters Elly, Tom, and Bob. I've been waiting patiently for Michael Putegnat's second novel as I loved his first one, Laguna! This is one of those books that you cannot put down until you solve the mystery. A very touching and loving story, well told. Be prepared to read late into the night!
I just this minute finished Michael Putegnat's second novel, "The Settling" and...WOW!
I'm not one of the many readers who "tell" the story of a book that I have read and subsequently review. I figure that's what the Synopsis is for. I will point out (imho) when the Synopsis doesn't BEGIN to do justice to the book that I have read. THIS is one such novel.
Through the horrors of war, Michael Putegnat was able to tell a beautiful story. To put it in the simplest of terms, the characters were both very human and very real. This made them completely believable. The depth of emotions I experienced in reading "The Settling" were quite extraordinary and completely unexpected.
As the widow of a United States Air Force Serviceman killed Active Duty, I can personally testify to the authenticity of the description of a Military Funeral presented With Honors. "21 Gun Salute" and all... With this author's telling of this event, I wept. My husband's Military Funeral being one of the most pivotal experiences in my lifetime...the sights, the sounds, the colors, the sheer emotions and the "Honors" bestowed, I have carried with me every single day for the past 27 years since having to say "Goodbye" and will continue to carry with me until the day I am laid to rest beside my own "personal hero," my husband, David.
I share all this with you only to illustrate that Mr. Putegnat could not have gotten this any more RIGHT. Any other widows, widowers and other surviving family members who have suffered the loss of one of our soldiers whom these "Honors" are then bestowed upon will know EXACTLY what I mean.
For the reasons I have annotated above, along with many, many others, this book was easily a "5 STAR" read for me. Every once in a while, we all come across a book that begs for a much HIGHER RATING than the "5 Stars" we are allowed to bestow upon a book here on Goodreads. This was one of those books for me. I HIGHLY recommend this novel to EVERYONE!