American military cops investigating a murder learn that tensions between North and South Korea still run high decades after the war.
Korea, 1970s. Army CID agents George Sueño and Ernie Bascom are summoned to the Korean DMZ to investigate the shooting death of South Korean Cpl. Noh, apparently killed on the southern side of the Military Demarcation Line and dragged a few feet to the northern side—a none-too-subtle insult to the Americans. Ernie and George, who narrates in a punchy first-person voice, witness the animus as the American Lt. Col. Brunmeyer gets into a shouting match with North Korean Junior Lt. Kwon. Probing the rift between the two once-cordial officers, and possible motives for murder, are solid starting points. Although Noh’s parents are inconsolable, his sister, Marilyn, has sufficient presence of mind to discreetly hand Ernie and George a note to give to Teddy, an American soldier in the DMZ, whom she was seeing though her parents and brother disapproved. Could that be a motive for murder? Stains on a shovel Teddy was using look enough like blood for MPs to arrest Pvt. Theodore H. Fusterman. Marilyn passionately declares Teddy’s innocence, and Ernie and George stop just short of telling her they believe her. When Ernie is brutally attacked, the guys realize Marilyn must be right, and they need to find this psycho before he strikes again.
Limón’s 13th mystery (The Nine-Tailed Fox, 2017, etc.) entertains with its easy banter and fascinates with deep insight into its precise historical moment.