I should read Mr. DeMilles books more often even though theyre usually long stories. But I do enjoy them and sometimes learn from them.
Paul Brenner, a retired Army investigator, is asked by his former commander to return to Vietnam to investigate a 30-year-old murder--a Vietnamese soldier allegedly witnessed an American captain kill his lieutenant. Paul had served in Vietnam in 1968 and 1972. He reluctantly agrees to take this assignment and leave his long-distance love, Cynthia.
In Ho Chi Minh City, Paul meets an expatriate, Susan Weber, who soon becomes more than an acquaintance and tour guide. He was given a travel itinerary in Washington DC since he was to be just another vet returning as a tourist. Susan is ultra pushy and accompanies him on his trip up country. Paul soon realizes there are lots of pieces to this puzzle and he doesnt have all of them. And he cant trust Susan.
To complicate matters, Paul was stopped upon arrival at the Saigon airport. Colonel Mang, a big shot in the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security, interrogates, harasses, and threatens Paul. And continues to do as he and Susan proceed on their trip. By the time they meet again in Hanoi (after Paul and Susan have found the witness and heard his story), things get really ugly. There are unresolved conflicts because Paul cant honestly complete his assignment.
This story takes place in 1997 and the descriptions of places are as they actually were when Mr. DeMille (a Vietnam vet) returned to Vietnam in 1997. Although he goes into a lot of detail, the story is never boring or drawn out. Mr. D. describes the war through Pauls memories as he travels from the south to the north and relates his experiences to Susan at places where he had fought. Some descriptions are graphic, but war is war, not a tea party. He also gives Paul a sarcastic sense of humor which, of course, I enjoyed.
- Bonus Review -
After Ben Walker returned
from Vietnam, he accepted the only employment offered--a job flying for the Mob in Las
Vegas. When his employers decided his services were no longer needed, they gave a
retirement party on his behalf, but he failed to show. His employers did, however, succeed
at having his wife murdered. When Walker questioned them about this, they said,
"Nothing personal. It was just a routine precaution."