When confronted with the raw numbers of dead, the volume of destruction, the disruption to ordinary life, there is no doubt that war is a brutal, destructive, and dehumanizing process. But it is in particular stories that we see the true cost of each life lost and the ripples extending outward from that loss. In The Return of Captain John Emmett (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July), Elizabeth Speller tells such a tale about the aftermath of WWI. After his military service has ended, John Emmett is found dead, an apparent suicide. His grieving sister Mary calls on Laurence Bartram, an old schoolmate, to help her understand what has happened. With scraps of poetry and some scribbled notes, Bartram sets out to reconstruct the events leading up to Emmett's death. As he delves into these tenuous connections, he realizes that others involved with Emmett have also died violently. Speller's compelling novel lets us discover that there are seldom easy answers, few happy endings, and no good wars.