THE DEAD SEASON. By Christobel Kent. Pegasus Crime. 424 pages. $25.95.

The August heat drains the life out of pretty much everything in Florence, Italy. But sometimes life drains out for other reasons, such as bludgeoning.

As former policeman Sandro Cellini, now a private investigator, searches for the man who left a young woman pregnant and alone, he has to puzzle out the connection between that man, the body of a banker of the same name found by the road and several other seemingly unrelated incidents.

“The Dead Season” is a meandering mystery, a put-the-pieces-together story filled with interesting characters and twists that won’t keep the reader on the edge of his seat, but certainly will keep him turning the page.

Reviewer Carol Edwards is a freelance editor and farmer living in Marlboro County.

THE GENERALS: American Military Command From World War II to Today. By Thomas E. Ricks. Penguin Press. 556 pages. $32.95.

Deep in his impressive, disturbing study of U.S. Army leadership, “The Generals: American Military Command From World War II to Today,” Thomas E. Ricks offers his explanation of why the Iraq war seemed to spiral out of control.

The fault was not with the Army’s rank and file, Ricks concludes.“The soldiers were often better at their tasks than the generals who were leading them were at theirs. In Iraq, the U.S. Army would illustrate the danger of viewing war too narrowly,” he writes.

A former military beat reporter at the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, Ricks offers conclusions that are stark, fact-based and strongly argued: The Army is often led by generals who are masterful at combat tactics, at converging battalions on an agreed-upon enemy target, but woefully inept at recognizing changes in the battlefield, like the emergence of an insurgency in Iraq or the re-emergence of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Tony Perry writes for the Los Angeles Times.