Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Sergeants Sueno and Bascom Hunt a Brutal Killer in the Korea of the 1970s

This is another very good entry in Martin Limon's series featuring Sergeants George Sueno and Ernie Bascom of the United States 8th Army CID. The series is set in the South Korea of the 1970s, and Limon, who spent ten years in the army in Korea, excels at describing the Korean countryside, people, and culture, as well as the interaction between the Koreans and the American Army. Sueno and Bascom are particularly appealing protagonists. They're smart, tough, and when the chips are down, they almost always follow their own instincts rather than their orders. This often gets them into trouble, but it almost always leads them to the truth.

This novel opens with the discovery of the body of a beautiful young Korean woman who has been murdered and left near the icy Sonyu River in the dead of winter. The Korean police ask Sueno and Bascom to assist in the investigation since the body is discovered near the headquarters of the Army's 2nd Infantry Division and it appears that an American serviceman may have been involved in the woman's death.

The two investigators are repulsed by the brutal murder and are happy to help, but the officers and men of the 2nd Infantry Division are a clannish bunch who refuse to cooperate. Stonewalled, Sueno and Bascom are initially frustrated in their investigation, but then another case brings them back to the region and gives them a way into the murder case. Powerful forces are threatened in the process and the two face not only a great deal of pressure but a serious threat to their own health and well-being as they pursue the investigation. This has never stopped them before, and it won't certainly stop them now, assuming they survive.

This is an interesting, fast-moving tale, and it's always fun to watch Sueno and Bascom at work. Readers who haven't found this series yet might well want to give it a try.

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