DeMille’s biggest yet deserves high points for entertainment and readability, though nothing of his has been as moving or richly written as 1990’s The Gold Coast.
Up Country is a sequel to The General’s Daughter (1992), filmed with John Travolta as DeMille’s Army homicide detective Paul Brenner. Despite DeMille liking the film, it stuck closely to his plot and was a gloomy dud. Though lighter in tone, Up Country also turns on a bloody central event and an imponderable moral problem: Brenner’s old boss Colonel K. Karl Hellman, head of the Criminal Investigation Division, calls the retired Chief Warrant Officer Brenner back in for a special op. Brenner’s sent back to Vietnam, where he did two tours during the war (as did Lt. Nelson DeMille), to look into a murder that took place 30 years ago. A Vietnamese soldier wrote a letter to his brother, later recovered by the CID, that told of an American captain shooting a fellow lieutenant in the Treasury Building within the Citadel in Quan Tri City, then looting the treasury’s safe. This monster later ran a black market that rewarded him with big money. Colonel Hellman actually knows who this captain is, but wants Brenner to investigate cold and see what he can find out as hard evidence for a military trial. Brenner lands in Saigon and falls in with Susan Weber, a businesswoman who sticks to him throughout his investigation and is, of course, far more deadly than she seems. This gives DeMille a chance to warm up his earlier fancy sophisticated dialogue between Brenner and CID rape investigator Cynthia Sunhill from The General’s Daughter, although Susan, while mysterious, sexy and dangerous, turns out to be a less ingenious foil than Cynthia throughout several hundred pages of two-person dialogue that only too often rehashes what we already know. The climax lands Brenner in the same hot water that got him retired/fired.
Bloated but bouncy, bound for big sales.