THE GENERAL by Patrick A. Davis


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Routine military whodunit set in the dusty warrens of the Pentagon, from a former Air Force major. Shortly after putting the dinner dishes in the sink, Colonel Charlie Jensen, a contented family man who is also commander of the Air Force’s P-Directorate, an elite criminal-investigations unit that handles only the highest profile cases, gets a phone call. The corpse of Air Force General Watkins, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been found at home in his study, his skin brutally slashed in a torture-style execution commonly used many years ago by the Vietcong. Though he would normally lead the investigation, Jensen is ordered to play second fiddle to Colonel “Tip” Tippett, a heroic veteran of Vietnam and Desert Storm, as well as a Jensen family friend, who has been hitting the bottle since he was passed over for a general’s star. Almost by accident, Jensen discovers that Watkins’s last call was to a Vietnamese restaurant on 14th Street near Washington’s red-light district. The general’s aide, the drop-dead gorgeous Major Talia Swanson, confirms that though her boss had served in Vietnam and recently visited former prisoner-of-war camps there, he was no fan of cracked rice and spring rolls. In fact, just before he died, Watkins was about to stop the current President’s plans to normalize relations with Vietnam—a move that Watkins’s rival, General Holmes, supports. The body count grows: Vietnamese and American Air Force officers, who may know something about a secret massacre in a North Vietnamese prison camp from which General Holmes conveniently escaped, are stabbed, shot, sliced to pieces, or blown up. In the process, Davis’s dialogue-heavy narrative moves quickly, but its lack of descriptive detail and distinguishable characters lends an artificiality to the plot, which is yanked along by plug-in melodramatics like kidnappings and faked deaths. A terse, gung-ho military-thriller debut sans the usual high-tech hardware. Lots of action, but not much else.

Pub Date: April 2nd, 1998
ISBN: 0-399-14411-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1998


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