Seventeen tough cases from the files of a pair of two-fisted military detectives, circa 1971.
George Sueño and his partner, Ernie Bascom, are stationed on the U.S. 8th Army base in South Korea. Even though it's been quite a while since the large-scale conflict in that country, there's still plenty of tension between the American military and the locals, as well as capital crimes involving both groups (The Joy Brigade, 2012, etc.). Many of the stories, written over two decades, have been previously published. Some highlights: "The Opposite of O" concerns the murder of a pair of Korean sisters and the culture clash it exemplifies. "Pusan Nights" brings Sueño and Bascom in to solve a series of muggings perpetrated against shipmates aboard the Kitty Hawk; the investigation does not go as planned. "A Piece of Rice Cake" starts as a slightly humorous tale about robbery at the Officer's Club but turns into a sad episode about the hardscrabble existence of the natives. "The Filial Wife" takes the duo to the city of Taegu to tackle a case with no suspects and, ultimately, a highly improbable killer. In "Seoul Story," the guys show a softer side when they rescue a local orphan clinging to life. Limón's strengths are the muscular immediacy of his prose, the gritty righteousness of his heroes and the vivid depiction of the complex subculture that they troll. The more streamlined plots of his short stories make these elements more prominent.
This is the rare collection whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts.