An American war veteran returns to Vietnam and finds himself faced with the harsh truths of his military exploits.
When Robert Anderson is invited to consult on a winery project in Vietnam, he jumps at the chance. An American officer during the Vietnam War, Robert has lived for more than 30 years with memories he can’t reconcile–most notably, an ambush in which he and only one other man, a Vietnamese colonel named Dinh Son, survived, thanks to Dinh’s bravery. But Robert’s trip gets off to a bad start when he’s pulled aside for intense questioning by a military officer at customs. Regardless, he pushes forth with his consulting gig, enlisting the help of American consulate employee Jenny Ngo. It quickly becomes clear, however, that the winery project will have to wait. Mysterious agents are trailing Robert and Jenny around the country. When one of the agents turns up dead, Robert uncovers cryptic documents connecting the lurking operatives with that fateful ambush which happened so long ago. Meanwhile, Robert’s wartime chum Dinh gets in touch, recruiting him for a scheme to smuggle gold to the United States–at the end of the war, a boat loaded with gold bars sank to the bottom of the Saigon River, and Dinh has located the fortune. Robert agrees (he does owe Dinh his life, after all) but at the moment, he is more concerned about the fact that everybody he questions about the ambush ends up dead. The remainder of the novel follows Robert and Jenny racing around Vietnam searching for the meaning of the mysterious documents, interwoven with Dinh’s efforts to salvage the gold from the river. Though the plot occasionally pushes the boundaries of credulity, and the novel’s backdrop–an unlikely scenario involving a Chinese invasion of Vietnam–fizzles, the book is an easy read. Scott is able to tease out the connection between the two storylines in a satisfying way.
Despite some missteps, readers will find more treasure than fool’s gold.