The fall of Saigon brings the war home to North Carolina for several Vietnam vets and their friends.
Nurse Elizabeth Pepperhawk thinks she’s left Vietnam behind. But when a woman arrives on her doorstep with a baby and the field diary of West Point graduate Col. Darby Baxter, the memories come rushing back. Miss Fillmore, a State Department employee rescued from the embassy in Saigon, claims that a dying Darcy asked her to bring the baby and diary to Pepper and demands $3,000. Pepper scrapes up the money, all right, but is crushed to think that the baby must be Darcy’s and that the man she loves is not what she thought. When Miss Fillmore is found dead in the clinic where Pepper works, her housemates, police officer Avivah Rosen and her boyfriend, journalist Saul Eisenberg, and Vietnam vet Benny Kirkpatrick all get involved. At length, Darby turns up badly wounded, only to become a suspect, along with a pilot for the CIA’s Air America who suddenly arrives in town. Since Darcy was supposed to be in Japan and the army has reported him killed in a training accident, what was he doing in Vietnam? Pepper is attacked for the field diary, someone tries to steal the baby and Pepper discovers a large Vietnamese community nearby that she never knew about. Although Avivah gets on the case while Pepper struggles with her damaged relationship, the answers may lie far away in another country.
The last installment in the adventures of Elizabeth and Avivah (Missing, Presumed Wed, 2009, etc.) will bring back disturbing memories for readers of a certain age. For others, the complex mystery provides an insider’s look at a difficult time in American history.