THE VETS by Stephen Leather


Email this review


 Another Asian-flavored thriller from Leather (The Chinaman, 1992, etc.)--this one about Vietnam vets who form an uneasy alliance with Hong Kong triads for a big score. Under the guise of healing the psyches of four ex-vets by getting them a tour back to contemporary Vietnam, former Colonel Tyler assembles his team. Lately, the Southeast Asian Republic, desiring better relations with the US, has been encouraging American tourism. Languishing under communist rule, Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) has dwindled from ``the Paris of the Orient'' to a cracked-plaster backwater. Buildings have deteriorated, and long gone is the glitz that wartime US dollars bestowed. But, surprisingly, the impoverished populace are still pro-American. The trip, however, is all eyewash. Approached afterward by the Colonel, all four men confirm their interest in acquiring millions of dollars. Tyler knows his men: Lehman, a former helicopter pilot, is on the run from the Mafia; helicopter crew chief Lewis is dying of cancer; doorgunner Carmody is plain psychotic; and Special Forces expert Horvitz is afflicted with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). After visiting Vietnam and Thailand, Tyler ferries his men to Hong Kong, where the heist--robbing the Happy Valley racetrack--will go down. Mastermind is Anthony Chung, a brilliant, young--and very rich--Chinese with a secret agenda. Replete with surprises, the plot is revealed little by little. Or as they say in spy novels--on a need-to-know basis. Better yet, even minor characters are well-fleshed, and the portrait the author paints of shabby Saigon and sad Hong Kong exceeds that of any travel narrative. Leather goes himself one better with each outing. A detail- oriented, devious, engrossing thriller that never falters.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-671-74303-1
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Pocket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1993


FictionCOLD KILL by Stephen Leather
by Stephen Leather
FictionTHE CHINAMAN by Stephen Leather
by Stephen Leather