When a two-fisted military sleuth shakes the trees in search of a soldier’s remains, he uncovers secrets some would kill to protect.
Narrator George Sueño, agent for the Criminal Investigation Division of the 8th U.S. Army in Seoul, circa 1973, gets a strange request from Auntie Mee, a highly respected local woman known as “the most famous chom-cheingi in Seoul,” whom he’s met through his close friend Doc Yong. The mysterious fortune teller requests that Sueño find the bones of a G.I. she calls Mori Di. Cryptically, Auntie Mee warns that failure to find the bones will prove perilous to Miss Kwon, a delicate young “business girl” Doc Yong has taken under his wing. The victim of an unsolved murder, Mori Di has haunted Auntie Mee’s dreams for nearly two decades. Sueño’s respect for Doc Yong prompts him to take the matter seriously. With his sidekick Bascom, he searches military records from the Korean War and discovers the identity of the likely victim: Sgt. Florencio Moretti, missing and presumed dead. Further research reveals that an investigator calling himself Cort found evidence of multiple coverups, both American and Korean, of Moretti’s movements and of a shameful incident known as the Itaewon Massacre. A lively subplot involves AWOL corporal Francisco “Paco” Bernal, his underage girlfriend Jessica Tidwell (a rigid colonel’s wild daughter) and his theft of thousands in government money.
Sueño’s sixth mystery (The Wandering Ghost, 2007, etc.) combines a brash, righteous hero with gritty local color for a crackling good read.