The Officers' Club [NOOK Book]

Overview


Spring, 1981.  Vietnam is over, but the repercussions linger.  The military strives to recover as society reels from the excesses of the 1970s…

A sinister beauty and a dutiful soldier… a Hollywood lawyer running from a dirty past and a cast-off vet who seems to have no future…  dueling drug gangs along the Mexican border… and the mutilated remains of a female lieutenant. 

Stunning, promiscuous, and brilliant at spotting the...

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The Officers' Club

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Overview


Spring, 1981.  Vietnam is over, but the repercussions linger.  The military strives to recover as society reels from the excesses of the 1970s…

A sinister beauty and a dutiful soldier… a Hollywood lawyer running from a dirty past and a cast-off vet who seems to have no future…  dueling drug gangs along the Mexican border… and the mutilated remains of a female lieutenant. 

Stunning, promiscuous, and brilliant at spotting the weaknesses in others, Jessie Lamoureaux may have been killed by a jealous lover, a drug smuggler—or a ghost from a life she hoped she had left behind. 

Was her murderer the Green Beret she betrayed?  The captain whose marriage she shattered?  The senior officer hoping to save her from herself?  A female sergeant fighting for dignity in a man’s world?  Or a fellow lieutenant with a secret of his own?

In this gritty tale of young men and women torn between the laws of the land and the laws of the heart, a dark journey leads from a moonlit beach in Mexico to mayhem in Iran—then back to a country looking for its soul.

The Officers’ Club captures the passions and confusion of the times, the reckoning due after a decade of indulgence—and the commitment of those who stayed in uniform through the bad years.

As the military and society struggle to right themselves, their conflicts are embodied in the question:  

Who killed Lieutenant Jessie Lamoureux? 

At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The murder of 1st Lt. Jessica Lamoureux at Arizona's Fort Huachuca kick-starts Peters's excellent mystery thriller set in the post-Vietnam era. Roy Banks, a 28-year-old army second lieutenant, is finishing a course in military intelligence by designing a war game exercise, but the real games are those played by his fellow officers who are members of what they jokingly refer to as "the Officers' Club," a hard-drinking, promiscuous group who spend their free time in various bars and bedrooms. Late one night, a skinny-dipping Lamoureux tries to seduce Banks, who's sleeping with a married female second lieutenant. Much to his own surprise, Banks fends her off, which proves to be one of the few astute choices he makes in a novel filled with men and women making all the wrong decisions. Peters (The War After Armageddon) shows he can explore the conundrums of love and the battlefield of the human heart as successfully as he navigates international military strategy and tactics. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

(Starred Review) "An absorbing and finely crafted portrayal of complex characters...In the tradition of James Jones, Norman Mailer and Nelson DeMille."
--Library Journal

"The Officers’ Club is a perfect invocation of America and the post-Vietnam Army trying to repair its heart and soul in the aftermath of a long, disastrous war.  For those of us who were there, as well as for those who were not, this is a must read; a remembrance of things we’d rather forget, and a reminder that history is prologue to the future.  Peters writes with wit and style, his dialogue is as crisp and fresh as a newly-pressed uniform.  An outstanding novel of mystery, seduction, sex, betrayal, and murder."
--Nelson DeMille, New York Times bestselling author of The Lion

"Ralph Peters knows the people and culture of the modern military as well as any living writer; truthfully, no one writes them better.  Peters is the gold standard which the rest of us are measured against."
--Stephen Coonts, New York Times bestselling author of The Assassin 
 
"With The Officers' Club, Ralph Peters elegantly proves that America's military forces are staffed with flesh and blood human beings, people for all their trials and tribulations who are dedicated not only to their country, but to each other.  Brothers and sisters, in arms, all facing the same enemy which is sometimes themselves.   Peters has written a real story about real people, and he's nailed it solid.  I couldn't put it down.  Hats off!"
--David Hagberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Expediter

Library Journal
In 1981 at Fort Huachuca in southern Arizona, several young intelligence officers spend their off-duty hours in pursuit of no-strings-attached sex. Why then do these presumably carefree affairs lead to murder? The victim is First Lt. Jessie Lamoureaux, a gorgeous but "reptilian" seductress. Lt. Roy Banks, who narrates the tale and is himself having an affair with a married female officer, had resisted Jessie's wiles, but other officers were less fortunate. He knows at least four casualties left in her wake. But Jessie, whose past, like Roy's, is mysterious, also had connections to Mexican drug bosses and plenty of discarded civilian lovers. Anchored by his friendship with a fellow jazz fan, a gay man who owns a music store in nearby Bisbee, and by his respect for the army, Roy lets us see with gripping and convincing detail the "sexual vandalism" that had turned the intelligence school into a "Peyton Place without the moral restraint." VERDICT Peters, a strategic analyst for Fox News and author of The War After Armageddon and over 20 other books, offers an absorbing and finely crafted portrayal of complex characters whose intertwining relationships come apart under the strain of differing expectations. In the tradition of James Jones, Norman Mailer, and Nelson DeMille.—Ron Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson
Kirkus Reviews

The brutal murder of a beautiful young female lieutenant is at the center of this thriller by retired Army Lt. Col. Peters (The War After Armageddon, 2009, etc.).

It's 1980, and the U.S. Army is still reeling from the despair of Vietnam. Lt. Roy Banks, a former enlisted man, has been assigned to the training staff at Fort Huachuca near Arizona's border with Mexico. Somewhat guiltily, Banks is bedding another officer's wife, and he soon finds himself moving past sexual attraction toward something more complicated. Also serving at the desert outpost is Lt. Jessie Lamoureaux, another member of "the Officers' Club," an informal group of young Army officers who regularly invade the wilds of Mexico for drink and mild debauchery. It is the manipulative Lamoureaux, supposedly a rich daddy's girl from the Old South, who becomes the catalyst for a deeply troubling descent into mayhem that catches up Roy's friend, Lt. Jerry Purvis, Roy's movie-star handsome commanding officer and his devoted wife, and a seemingly feckless major with a surprising secret in his military jacket. Lamoureaux is a sociopath, and her weapons of choice are sex and lies, and perhaps the allure of money-by-the-bagful doled out by a hard-partying, second-generation Colombian with a ready supply of cocaine. Peters hits the bull's-eye with his descriptions of Army life, good and bad, and his short sketches of the dedicated soldiers who serve our country are moving. While some may find Banks too sophisticated, worldly and analytical for a man not yet 30, the story moves along crisply and, with the exception of a minor narrative thread left unresolved, the thriller satisfies.

Part murder mystery, part character study, totally entertaining. Peters has created a character worthy of a sequel.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429934749
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 1/18/2011
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 151,686
  • File size: 311 KB

Meet the Author


Ralph Peters is a retired Army lieutenant colonel and former enlisted man, a controversial strategist and veteran of the intelligence world; a bestselling, prize-winning novelist; a journalist who has covered multiple conflicts and appears frequently in the broadcast media; and a lifelong traveler with experience in over seventy countries on six continents. A widely read columnist, Ralph Peters' journalism has appeared in dozens of newspapers, magazines and web-zines, including The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Harpers, and Armchair General Magazine. His books include The War After Armageddon, Endless War, and Red Army. Peters grew up in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, and studied writing at Pennsylvania State University. He lives and writes in the Washington, D.C. area.
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Read an Excerpt


1
 
The guy flashing the badge at my door that morning looked like a Mormon missionary. His double-knit sport coat was a sweat machine, his cheap tie a noose. He glanced at the can of Tecate in my hand: wanton violation of the Sabbath.
We were off to a bad start.
“Special Agent Tompkins. CID. I’d like to ask you a few questions.”
“Sure.” I pushed open the screen door. He had the look of an NCO eager to be mistaken for an officer. “Want a beer?”
I couldn’t help teasing him. I was screwed, anyway. A fitting end to the affair. Now that Nikki was gone, after reducing my heart to shit, somebody must have gone running to the chain of command, whining about a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice: adultery, a cold word for a conflagration. Probably her husband, whining from afar.
“Have a seat.”
Tompkins sat on the couch, ignoring the stains. He glanced around, in search of evidence. Nikki was everywhere. But nowhere he could see.
His eyes settled on the unread Sunday paper. An Abscam conviction shared headline space with the Fed’s 14 percent interest rate.
I leaned against the wall. Varnished knotty pine met bare flesh. The air conditioner grumped at the desert heat.
“Would you mind turning off the music?”
I flipped up the tonearm and stopped the record. Steve Winwood. Arc of a Diver. Not my life’s usual soundtrack. One of Nikki’s favorites. My self-flagellation.
“Did you just take a shower?” Tompkins asked. It wasn’t great sleuthing: My hair was wet, and I wore nothing but a pair of cut-off jeans.
“Dropped the towel when you rang the bell.”
Why did you take a shower just now?”
I made a what the fuck? face. I’d been on a long suicidal run out in the proving grounds. Me against the Arizona sun. Stupidity, vanity and heartbreak, calves, thighs and lungs. I liked to jump the wire and run forbidden trails, just me and the rattlesnakes. The adjudicating authority could add that to the score.
“I stank.”
“From what?”
“I was out running.”
“How long were you gone?”
I shrugged. “About an hour. What’s this all about?”
“Where were you were last night? Start at six in the evening and talk me forward.”
I didn’t see what my lonesome Saturday night had to do with Nikki and a conduct-unbecoming charge. Although it had everything to do with Nikki.
“I was here. All evening. All night.”
“Alone?”
“Yes. Alone.”
“That doesn’t sound like you. The way people describe you.” Then he added, “Lieutenant.”
“Look, would you tell me what this is about?” I was no longer so sure that I knew. “And aren’t you supposed to read me my rights or something?”
“Do you want me to read you your rights? Are you guilty of something?”
“You tell me.”
“Do you consider yourself a suspect?”
“A suspect for what?”
“Where were you last night, Lieutenant Banks? Let’s narrow it down. Where were you between midnight and six A.M.?”
“Here. I told you. I was in bed by midnight.”
“Asleep?”
“I don’t know when I fell asleep. But I was in bed.”
“Were you alone?”
“I told you that, too.” Alone. And sick at heart. Unable to read. Unable to bear any music I had played when we were together. Unable to jerk off without feeling puking sick at the thought of her gone.
“But you have no witnesses?”
“How could I have witnesses? I was alone.”
He canted his head toward the wall behind him. Cinder block, painted white, on that side of the room. My apartment sat in the middle of a building that looked like a one-story motel bypassed by a new highway. Junk decorated the yards across the street; an abandoned Airstream lurked behind the back fence. Huachuca City, USA, model desert slum.
“Neighbors?”
“They might’ve heard me. I don’t know. I didn’t have the stereo on very long.”
“So … you have no proof that you were where you say you were between midnight and six A.M.? Are you sure you didn’t have any visitors? A female? Are you protecting someone’s reputation? As a gentleman?”
I hadn’t felt very gentlemanly of late. I didn’t answer, didn’t need to.
“What about your civilian friend from Bisbee, the homosexual?”
He spoke the last word as if fearing infection.
“He wasn’t here. No female, either. For Christ’s sake. Can’t you tell me what this is all about?”
It couldn’t be about Nikki. Even though everything in my life was about her now. Casual sex exploded into a wrecking passion. I fell in love with a slut as worthless as I was. Then watched, helplessly, as she walked away.
“Describe your relationship with First Lieutenant Jessica Lamoureaux.”
The penny dropped. Partway. Jessie Lamoureaux was born for trouble. This was all about her. Nikki was just plain gone. Not even the CID was going to bring her back to me.
“I don’t know what to call it, exactly. Not really friendship. Acquaintances? We’ve been on the outs.”
“Did you ever have sexual relations with Lieutenant Lamoureaux?”
“No.”
“You’re certain of that?”
“I’d remember.”
Was she the one facing charges? There was plenty of sleep-around, emotional bloodshed to raise a stink about. And the jealous wives to do it. Then there was the darker stuff. Much darker.
“Could you pass a polygraph on that? Swearing that you never had sexual relations with First Lieutenant Jessica Lamoureaux?”
“If the polygraph works. Yeah.”
“Did you ever attempt to have sexual relations with her?”
“Jessie isn’t my type.”
He looked at me skeptically. To the average male observer, Jessie was everybody’s type. “She never rebuffed you?”
I couldn’t help smirking. I remembered Jessie naked, wet and cold, a gorgeous serpent, coiling around me. Waist-deep in the Sea of Cortez at two A.M. In one of the few wise actions of my life, I had broken her grip and waded back to the beach. That had been the beginning, not the end, of our relationship.
“She never ‘rebuffed’ me.”
“Would you describe Lieutenant Lamoureaux as promiscuous?”
I killed the smile. “I’d describe her as socially energetic.”
Then he slipped. An NCO, not an officer. “She was a very attractive woman, wouldn’t you say?”
The chill hit me. It had nothing to do with the struggling air conditioner. “Has something happened to her?”
“Why do you say that?”
“You just used the past tense. You said she was an attractive woman.”
That miffed him. He recalibrated his deadpan expression.
“Lieutenant Lamoureaux was murdered. Early this morning.”
I sat down. On the floor. Right where I had been standing. I parked the empty beer can so clumsily that it fell on its side and rolled.
“Did you kill her?” Tompkins asked me.
I shook my head. Then I raised my hand: Wait a minute, give me a minute.
Dinwiddie? Had she driven the poor bastard crazy? Crazy enough to kill her? Or Jerry? He had the skills. And, in his mind, the reason. Gene? Earnest, silly Pete? The Kraut? Another broken lover, or his spouse? Jessie left plenty of casualties in her wake. Or had it been one of her murky Tucson pals? Or the Mexicans? Jessie played with so many different kinds of fire that getting burned was inevitable. But she never seemed the kind who wound up at the stake. Jessie got away with things, with everything. She might end up scorched, but not dead.
I thought of her shocking, reptilian beauty. Blue black hair and perfect skin that gleamed pale through a tan. Full lips and ruthless cheekbones. Arctic eyes so blue, they were almost gray. Torso slightly too long, legs faintly too short, but who cared? She could have been the damsel of a Deep South trailer court, or born to the best suite in a Geneva hotel. We had buried pasts in common.
“How did she die?” I asked.
Tompkins had been looking at me hard.
“No tears, Lieutenant Banks?”
I shook my head again. “Jessie wasn’t the kind of woman I’d cry over. She would’ve laughed, if she saw me crying. How was she … how did it happen?”
“Are you sure you can’t shed some light on that?”
I lost it. Scrambling to my feet. Knocking over a shelf of books and records. Barking. Snarling. Shouting.
“What the fuck, man? Read me my rights. Or stop playing asshole games. Just tell me how she died, for Christ’s sake. Just tell me how she died.”
He looked at me. Impassive. The master, after all. The bureaucrats always win, in the end.
“If you don’t know how she died,” he told me, “you don’t want to know.”
*   *   *
Exhibitionists pose for others, but narcissists pose for themselves. I was minding my own business. Alone with a half-empty can of beer, doing my existentialist riff on a Mex beach after midnight. It was March and the nights got cold, but I was the coolest living thing under that full moon. I sat on my ass on the sand and watched the water.
Puerto Peñasco was just a run-down fishing ville in those days, with one rathole motel that had rooms for roisterers down from Arizona for the weekend. At night, the town slept. If you hadn’t brought along anybody to fuck, there was nothing to do.
I was soloing that weekend. I’d loaned my car to my current bed-filler so she could drive up to Scottsdale to visit her husband’s family. Neither of us wanted them popping up at Fort Huachuca to see the sights.
So I was the odd man out in the little cabal we mockingly called the Officers’ Club, our answer to the impossibly dreary O-club on the fort. To which we were forced to pay dues to keep the bar open for the walking dead who lived above the parade field.
I had come down to the beach to get away from the sexual vandalism in the next room. Jerry was banging his DD-cup date against the wall. To needle me. She made barnyard sounds. I could picture him grinning. Nor did I want to think about the scene between the other two officers who’d tagged along.
When I stretched out my hand, the sand felt startlingly cold. My denim shirt didn’t keep me warm. But I was Mr. Zen, telling myself the chill was an illusion.
I didn’t even want the beer, really. It was just part of the role.
The world refused to respond to my profundity. The moonlit sea just stayed the same, no matter how long you stared at it. I shifted from pondering infinity to think about the girl who’d borrowed my car. Tight little lieutenant, married to her ROTC sweetheart right after graduation. We could’ve made some noise, had she come along. Although that was all she was good for. Nicole Weaver, second lieutenant, United States Army. I didn’t even know her maiden name. Didn’t want to.
I stopped thinking about her, too.
I didn’t hear Jessie Lamoureaux’s approach. She could’ve been watching me for an hour. Although Jessie wasn’t the kind of girl to wait that long for anything.
Bare feet, bare calves. Pale on the pale sand.
“I could’ve robbed you,” she said. “I could’ve murdered you.”
I shrugged. She sat down beside me. We stared at the so what? sea.
“It’s beautiful,” she said. “Isn’t it? And so quiet.”
“It was. Quiet.”
She laughed. Jessie put more of a southern accent into her laugh than into her speech. And her speech was theatrical enough.
“Got another beer there, Mr. Serious?”
“Nope.”
I couldn’t really see her. But I’m sure she shook her head.
“Where I come from, no self-respecting gentleman would go wandering off from his friends in the dead of night with less than a six-pack. You Yankees aren’t drinking men, are you?”
“We try not to puke on our dates.”
“That girl you’ve been seeing’s a terrible little slut. You must know that.”
“Here. You can have what’s left. It’s warm.”
She took the can. “I’m just sorry you and I haven’t been able to have a heart-to-heart before this.”
“Are we having a heart-to-heart?”
She drained the can and flung it. That was within the Mex rules. The poor bugger with whom she’d come down—a permanent-party major who wasn’t supposed to be sneaking off with transient junior officers—had cut his foot on broken glass on the beach early in the evening. Before anybody had downed enough beer and tequila to have an excuse for bleeding.
“Where’s the major?”
“How would I know? Asleep, I suppose.”
“I thought you were together? That was the impression he gave. When he thrust himself on Jerry and me. His big date.”
“We’re just friends. Separate rooms—I’m surprised you didn’t notice, Mr. Intelligence Officer. Oh, he’s nice enough, I suppose. But not my type at all.”
That explained why Major Leon Dinwiddie, a balding character battling a weight problem, had drunk more than a lacerated foot excused. Back at the fort, his nickname was Major Dim-witted. Even his fellow staff officers called him that. The U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School was a small town: Peyton Place without the moral restraint.
“So we’re both alone,” Jessie added. “You and me.”
“I’m spoken for, ma’am.”
She snickered. “You’re fucking another officer’s wife.”
“That’s putting it bluntly.”
“I don’t mind shocking people. When they need it.”
“And I need it?”
“I think so. You’re just playing at life. I’ve been watching you. For a while now. You don’t have any future with that little tramp.”
“Maybe I’m not looking for a future.”
“Then why do you always walk around looking so serious when you’re in uniform? And acting so hush-hush about that project they’ve got you on?”
The project was “hush-hush.” In a doesn’t-really-matter Fort Huachuca kind of way.
“What else have you found out, Inspector?”
“That you’ve got more walls around you than Parchman Farm.”
“Keeps the little girls intrigued. Case in point. Watch out for the scorpions, by the way. They sneak up on you.”
“The way I did? On you?” She granted me another stage laugh. “I should have been born a Scorpio. But I’m just a poor little Capricorn. What’s your sign, Roy?”
It was the first time she’d used my name.
“ ‘Dead end.’ ”
“See what I mean? Well, I’ve done a little research into Second Lieutenant Roy Banks, I’ll have you know.”
“And?”
“You’re twenty-eight years old. That’s old, for a second lieutenant. Even for a first lieutenant.”
“I’m former-enlisted.”
“I know that, too. Four years.”
“Major Dinwiddie show you my personnel file? Shame on him.”
“He didn’t do any such thing. The poor man. But you’re flattered. Aren’t you? That I went to so much trouble?”
“Depends on why.” Two gulls strafed the moon.
“I’ve got my reasons.”
“So now you know all there is to know. Case closed.”
She kept her silence for a moment, picking up a fistful of sand to strew across the darkness.
“Southern girls do the math,” she told me. “You’re twenty-eight. Allow a year for OCS and the course you just finished out here, and that gets us down to twenty-seven. Subtract four years enlisted time. That brings us down to twenty-three. You didn’t join the Army until you were twenty-three. Either that’s pathetic and you were a complete failure at something else … or you’ve got something to hide.”
“Maybe I’m hiding my failure?”
“Where were you between college and the day you joined the Army?”
“This an interrogation? Am I a prisoner?”
“I could make you my prisoner. If I wanted. Tell me about those missing years, Man of Mystery.”
“I was a riverboat gambler. And a carnival barker. Then I did a short stint as an astronaut. After which I became a Zen monk.” I turned my torso, examining her profile: 1940s Hollywood, back when women had profiles. Unpinned, her River Styx hair graced confident shoulders. “How about you, Miss Scarlett? I hear you came in from the National Guard for training, then convinced the Army to shift you to active duty. That takes some serious powers of persuasion. Or string-pulling of the first order…”
“What else do you think you know about me?”
“Only that you’ve already burned a hole in one marriage on post. The Kraut.”
We called the Bundeswehr liaison officer “Hitler without the Charm.”
“Colonel Faulenzer? He was just a pest. Just a poor, pesky old man. There was never anything between us.”
“Enough for his wife to go crying to the commandant.”
“And nothing came of it. Not one thing. Because nothing happened. Except that the creep would show up at my quarters in the middle of the night. What was I supposed to do?”
“Promote cordial international relations, I suppose. The point I was getting to is that you’re not the world’s youngest lieutenant, either.”
“A gentleman never asks a lady about her age.”
“That statement contains two possibly unjustified assumptions.”
“I was enlisted myself. For a while.”
“Naw. You don’t have the enlisted gene. And I can do math, too. Basic arithmetic, anyway. I peg you for … say, twenty-six. Make that twenty-seven. Where were you all these years, Blanche? Shambling about the rooms of the old plantation?”
Jessie stood up. “We’re wasting all this beautiful moonlight. I’m going for a swim.”
She dropped her shorts and pulled her T-shirt over her head, tossing back her darker-than-darkness hair. I expected her to stop at her bra and panties. She didn’t.
“You’ll freeze,” I told her. “And watch out for the glass.”
“Sissy!” she yelled. With a laugh.
She ran for the water.
I did what I was conditioned to do. I stripped down and ran after her.
The water was shockingly cold. Splashing upward. Biting. I kept moving. Stones bruised my feet. She was tougher than I was.
When I caught up with Jessie, in waist-deep water, she turned to face me. Moonlight washed the left side of her face. I could not see the least hint of emotion.
Shock of skin-on-skin. One-size-fits-all, she applied herself to me. Wet flesh. Cold flesh. Warm flesh. Hair. Muscles.
“You were right,” she said. “It’s freezing.” Her face reached up. A wet paw on the back of my neck pulled me down.
Our lips met.
Her tongue could have been a viper’s.
I’ve never been able to put a name to what I felt, to that instant of uncategorizable revulsion. That single time in my life my instincts saved me.
I broke her grip. Roughly. And marched toward the shore.
It made no sense. None of it made sense. Why on earth was I walking away—running away—from a gorgeous, naked, aggressively willing woman? I felt her ghost against me.
I left the water in a rage. Behind me, I heard laughter.
*   *   *
When I strolled into the diner that Sunday morning, Jerry was already sprawled in our regular booth, grinning. After giving me a few more seconds of his cat-that-ate-the-whole-cage-of-canaries look, he called out to the waitress.
“Rosalita, mi corazón! Una cerveza por mi amigo! Ándale! Es una emergencia!”
“I don’t want a beer,” I told him, dropping into the booth facing him.
Jerry shrugged. “I’ll drink it. Don’t worry about it. Hey, you look tired, man. I’m the one’s supposed to be tired. I almost came over to get you in the middle of the night, you know that? I needed some help, brother. She was definitely out of control.”
He’d upgraded to a lonesome captain for the weekend. Lot of pent-up energy. She was plump for my tastes, but Jerry was an equal-opportunity fornicator.
“And where is the good captain, pray tell?”
Jerry grinned. “Good? She was great. More cushion for the pushin’. Just don’t bring her back for a rematch in ten years. I never sleep with women I can’t bench-press.”
Rosalita, who had proved trainable over the months, didn’t bring me a beer. She delivered hot water and a jar of Nescafé. It was as good as the local coffee got. A young, rotund Indian, she seemed to think we were funny, doubtless thought we were stupid, flirted with me and adored Jerry. All women adored Jerry. Even the ones who thought they hated him, the sort who derided him as an ass to each other, then screwed his brains out when their girlfriends weren’t around.
I suppose I adored him, too. He’d been Special Forces as an enlisted man and looked the part. Handsome, the Marlboro Man’s kid brother, he had massive biceps, an incandescent smile, and hilarious war stories from his time in Central America playing hide-and-seek with the Sandinistas. He was the soldier I wanted to be.
Rosalita hovered.
“Huevos rancheros,” I told her. “Por favor.”
Her meaningless smile didn’t change. “No hay huevos. Camarones?”
“Sure. Camarones.” The joint, La Cita, couldn’t be called fly-specked. Flies had more pride. But it was the only place to eat within an hour’s drive. Toast might not be available and eggs were always iffy, but the fishing fleet docked down the street and shrimp were a mainstay.
Camarones coke-tell?” Spanish wasn’t her first language, either.
“Sure. . Camarones coke-tell. My favorite breakfast. Gracias.”
Jerry’s grin was unkillable. “I wonder if Major Dim-witted got more than he bargained for? Should we go out looking for his body?”
“I’m not sure he had the weekend he expected.”
Jerry cocked an eyebrow. “Oh? And what am I to make of that, mi amigo? Don’t tell me you were on the night shift, after all?”
Before I could answer, Jessie Lamoureaux paraded down the dirt street, khaki shorts, white blouse, and glam-girl sunglasses. She spotted us behind the window and waved. Fingers doing a ballet flutter.
“Man, I’d have to go into training…,” Jerry said.
I expected her to keep her distance after my flight—a retreat I already regretted, telling myself that I was king of the chimps for not nailing her on the beach in an X-rated version of the surf scene in From Here to Eternity. She was a stunning woman, all good dirt. What had I been thinking?
Jessie wasn’t aloof. She smiled as if we were mad about each other, then slipped into the booth beside me, rubbing close, playful.
“Sorry if I frightened you last night,” she told me. For Jerry’s benefit.
He bit. “Is this true love … or merely lust, my children?”
“You’ll never know,” Jessie said. “Is that all they have? Nescafé?”
“You can have a beer,” I said. “Where’s the major?”
“Now, how would I know that?” She smiled at Jerry. “What I wouldn’t give for a cup of French Market coffee right now.”
“I thought you were from Mississippi,” I said.
“Mississippi’s where we go to church. N’Awlins is where we go to the devil.” She took possession of my cup. “Pass the sugar?”
Major Dinwiddie limped in, bandaged foot wedged into a sandal. His face was absinthe green.
He misread the scene in front of him. As Jessie intended.
Jerry’s captain didn’t show up for breakfast. She’d come down with a morning-after case of Montezuma’s revenge. It was hard to get her out of the motel.
The ride back to Fort Huachuca wasn’t much fun.


 
Copyright © 2010 by Ralph Peters
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    sex, alcohol, and murder on and near a military base

    I was beginning to think that this book was all about sex with no plot but after a few chapters a storyline began that did draw me into "The Officers' Club". Roy Banks is a Second Lieutenant in the army. He lives on base and was very dismayed when a CID agent came to his door to ask Roy questions regarding the death of a very promiscuous female officer who had made advances to almost everyone at the base. Roy told the agent he had no interest in Jessica Lamoureaux despite her many attempts to seduce him. All Roy could think of was his love and physical attraction to Nikki. The location of the base was very near the Mexican border, allowing the military access to Mexico when they had down time. They all knew it was dangerous but some disregarded the danger for the excitement of the drinking and sex available. The story now shifted back in time with Roy and Nikki and their fascination for each other. Nikki was married but she still wanted to have as much time and sex with Roy that was possible. Roy knew she had a commitment to her husband but he was enjoying her as often as he could. The various officers of the base would go to the Officers Club in Mexico to get their minds off of routine things when they became too tightly wound up in their work. Roy Banks was very much into physical fitness with weights and running. He would run until his body would rebel to the point of hurting. Roy was asked to plot out a hard set of maneuvers for the grunts. Roy knew the program he was developing was exceptionally hard and doubted most of those participating would be able to complete it but he was told not to make it easy-so he didn't! Roy was friendly with other officers near his rank and would do some things with them during their down time including some Mexican runs, a few in his old Mustang car. Top down, fresh air, sexy women, and fast speeds were a part of these trips that usually ended with many of them drunk. Nikki loved those trips. A wife of one of the officers was very attractive and she had eyes for Roy as well as Roy for her but she was married to a fellow officer so was off bounds to him. Marilyn was a temptation but nothing doing for Roy. In a nearby town Roy met Eli Lemberger who had set up a small shop where he sold old vinyl recordings. Roy was a collector of this type of music and he started spending more time at Eli's store, eventually sharing some tavern time together as well as time at Eli's home. Eli was gay but he knew Roy had no interest in him romantically but they both loved their time together enjoying music and drinks. Roy and Nikki continued their lovemaking as often as they could until Nikki had some personal problems and decided to return to her husband. This devastated Roy but despite his misgivings she would not change her mind. In the military associating between officers and non-commissioned officers was a strict taboo. It was out of the question. Enter into the scene, Staff Sergeant Mary Jane Munro, a non-commissioned officer and off limits to Roy-or until they found a way to sneak around and become very active with each other. The two of them really fell for each other but in both minds they knew it could not last but why not enjoy each other while possible? As you can see, the story did get off the strictly sex subjects and into other fields all of which made the book more interesting. Yes, I like sexual parts in books but not 100% of a story on the subject. In

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Fast, easy, enjoyable read.

    Ralph Peters' THE OFFICERS' CLUB is a tale of sex, deception, and tested loyalties in the post-Vietnam army.

    Lieutenant Jessie Lamoureaux is beautiful, sexy, and excels at ruining the lives of others. But when she turns up brutally murdered, a story unfolds involving a nymphomaniac, a lying pretty-boy, a goofy dullard, and an Italian pretty boy, all of whom happen to be US Army officers. Toss in two drug lords and a gay ex-lawyer jazz fanatic, and you have an exciting, incredibly unique story that is difficult to put down.

    The hero of the story is Lieutenant Banks, an older than normal lieutenant on staff at the Military Intelligence school, who is trying very hard to forget his past. He is sharp and intelligence, but his attitude gets him on the wrong side of most of his seniors. That same attitude coupled with his good looks gets him the bodies of just about any woman he wants. Their hearts; well, that's a different story. As he becomes entangled in Jessie's web of lies and manipulation, he must decide between loyalty to the Army and justice for the wicked.

    Set in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, the book is fast moving, with plenty of action and unexpected twists. However, it's easy to read and easy to follow, and Peters employs a very blunt, flowing, first-person narrative style. In addition to developing his characters very well, Peters does a fine job of painting a picture of the Army in the post-Vietnam era, when professional soldiers were trying to rebuild the pride and discipline of the service after that conflict.

    I enjoyed this book tremendously, mostly due to the writing style and the unwilling hero Lieutenant Banks. Darkly humorous, it was a fun, interesting, enjoyable read, and is highly recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    5 Star, Must Read Murder Mystery!

    A good mystery novel needs to blend several key elements: interesting, believable characters whose fate readers actually care about; an exciting, compelling story line; enough action (and romance) to propel the plot and engage readers; and a genuine mystery that keeps you guessing right up to the final pages. A great mystery novel must not only contain all of the above, it must be written by a story-teller of unusual narrative skill with an innate talent for capturing detail, atmosphere and nuances of character. Ralph Peters' latest novel, The Officers' Club, is firmly in the latter category - it's a great murder mystery.
    Peters, winner of the 2002 Dashiell Hammett Award presented by the International Association of Crime Writers for his novel, Honor's Kingdom, mines personal experience and background to capture in his narrative the authentic atmosphere of the time and place in which his story is set. In The Officers' Club, the time is 1981; the place is Ft. Huachuca, Arizona. Peters knows both only too well. The U. S. Army of the late-1970s-early-1980s was deeply troubled, struggling to find its way again in the aftermath of the shattering experience of the Vietnam War. It was not a happy time to be a soldier. Over time and through the efforts of a core of dedicated professionals the Army would be rebuilt; but in 1981 when this novel is set, that long and painful process was just beginning. Military history fans, therefore, will find the book especially revealing in its spot-on recreation of a troubled era in the Army's past that the history books too often gloss over. Standard history texts typically leap over the era from the end of the Vietnam War to the beginning of the 1991 Gulf War, usually quickly chalking up the Army's transformation to the Reagan buildup and leaving it at that. Peters' novel helps fill in one of the blank spots in Army history by giving readers a rare glimpse of just how far that profound transformation had to go.
    Like Dashiell Hammett and other classic mystery writers such as Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain, Peters shows in The Officers' Club a superb mastery of creating interesting characters, authentic atmosphere and a plot that keeps readers guessing right up to the novel's final pages. Particularly in mood and character interaction, it's evocative of Hammett's The Maltese Falcon, Chandler's The Big Sleep and Cain's Double Indemnity - indeed, Peters' book can stand as a fitting homage to those mystery writer masters of the 1920s-40s. Ralph Peters' The Officers' Club is a great read that is highly recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2013

    This is a must read for anyone curious about newly minted officers

    Ralph Peters was in the class ahead of me at Officer Candidate School. I have read a number of his other books and when I saw this book I knew I had to read it. It was a pleasant trip down memory lane. I thorougly enjoyed all the twists and turns in this novel. If you like murder mysteries this is an engaging, exciting read.

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  • Posted November 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Recommend

    THE OFFICERS CLUB is a fast read, but the officers are not gentlemen or ladies. The Club consists of young officers who party hard either in Bixby or Mexico. A striking beauty, Lt. Jessie Lamoureax, goes through ALL of the male members, except our narrator 2nd Lt. Roy Banks who is in a relationship with another officer. That relationship can get him out of Fort Huachuca or out of the Army if the right superior knew. And Jessie knows it.

    Peters opens the story with the murder of Jessie and Banks recalls the events leading up to her murder and the murderer¿s identity. Banks is designing a war game exercise that a hardened colonel wants for the Military Intelligence Class and Officers. It¿s 1981 and the Colonel believes the men have gotten soft to tackle the current problems. Everyone must pass this course to get certified. But Lamoureax isn¿t worried; she is waiting for her assignment, and is playing fast with many of Roy¿s friends. Drug running; Jazz listening, Mexico trips fills the fast paced novel, even his personal mayhem in Iran leaves Banks play-pen Zen unsettling when his lawyer friend gets the goods on the Jessie.

    I gave the book a star less than the book deserved because I really disliked all of the characters except the ¿dirty¿ lawyer and Jazz aficionado. Peters is surprisingly sympathetic to the early AIDS patient.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Cut Above

    The Officer's Club is a cut above your typical novel. The characters are believable and the story has heart. Beyond that, the tale is told with interest and skill. I have read it twice.
    (And no free copy for me!)

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    Posted June 15, 2011

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