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A suspense-free crack at a first thriller from Lee (Honor and Duty, 1993, etc.), in which a US Army captain--dispatched in 1974 to Korea's DMZ in search of a missing comrade--stumbles on crimes greater than kidnapping. Jackson Hu-chin Kan, a Chinese-born graduate of West Point assigned to San Francisco's Presidio as a prosecuting attorney, is detached to check on the fate of a colleague who disappeared while on a fact-finding mission to the land of morning calm. Although reluctant to leave Cara Milano (the luscious love of his life) and return to Asia (where he suffered a traumatic experience as an infantry officer in Vietnam), Kan goes to the Far East. Once there, he finds the demilitarized zone separating North from South Korea a veritable island of lost souls. Kan (who spends a lot of time agonizing over the fact that he has a foot in two distinctly different worlds) also discovers this hardship post to be in thrall to its staff judge advocate, a messianic colonel named Frederick C. LeBlanc. As the Watergate investigation gathers momentum back in America, Kan locates and anticlimactically flees the abducted officer. Before he leaves for home, however, he decides to take on the sinister LeBlanc. It's well he does because the crazy colonel has stockpiled tactical nuclear weapons and trained a cadre of troops for use in a preemptive strike against North Korea to protect the perceived interests of the white race. Urged on by Song Sac Moon, a lissome shaman, and by an aging sergeant major whom LeBlanc once framed, Kan (""I am of two worlds. You make me feel my past and a connection ancient and strong"") stymies the madman and helps keep the world safe for democracy--or at least diversity. A labored narrative weighted down by a surfeit of East/West musings that, for all their mystic portent, come across as not much more than self-absorbed maunderings.

Pub Date: March 27th, 1996
ISBN: 0345472799
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Knopf