Tiger's Tail

Tiger's Tail

5.0 2
by Gus Lee

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From the author of Honor and Duty and China Boy comes an ingenious thriller set in Korea in 1973—a gripping story of sorrow, corruption and redemption, with plenty of brawls to boot.


From the author of Honor and Duty and China Boy comes an ingenious thriller set in Korea in 1973—a gripping story of sorrow, corruption and redemption, with plenty of brawls to boot.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the manner of Malraux, Greene and le Carr, Lee-in a wise and wrenching novel, beautifully told-uses the thriller form to explore the human condition. His compass is Army prosecutor Jackson Hu-chin Kan, a Chinese-American who resembles not only Lee himself (both went to West Point) but also Kai Ting, hero of Lee's autobiographical first two novels, China Boy (1991) and Honor and Duty (1994). The setting is an isolated Army base along the DMZ between South and North Korea during the bitter winter of early 1974. Kan has been sent there to find another prosecutor, who's gone missing. Aided by two tough sidekicks, one a woman, he sees his mission expand to include deposing the base's power-mad commander, releasing a Yank soldier from a hellhole of a Korean prison and, as the suspense ratchets up, protecting some nuclear arms from a devilish threat. Meanwhile, Kan faces a personal mission: to come to terms with his killing of a young girl during combat in Vietnam-an incident that has come to signify for him God's utter alienation from humanity. Lee's exploration of contrasting Chinese, Korean and American ways are bold and revelatory. His characters tend to wear white or black hats, however, and he sometimes barely skirts sentimentality. But through vigorous prose that writhes across the page, his vision-daring, deep and unflaggingly moral-comes to vibrant life as he takes Kan on a tense and moving journey toward redemption. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Jackson Kan, first-born son of a Chinese American family and a military lawyer, is sent to a base on the Korean DMZ during the final days of the Nixon administration as part of an undercover legal team. He is there to probe the disappearance of another lawyer sent to investigate the base's senior legal officer, Col. Frederick LeBlanc, a.k.a. The Wizard. Working with two other lawyers-Magrip, a violence-loving Vietnam vet, and Levine, a feminist nuclear weapons expert-Kan gradually uncovers LeBlanc's plans for plunging Korea, and perhaps the world, into war. He, meanwhile, has personal demons to battle, the result of an ill-fated tour of Vietnam and the conflicting demands of his Chinese and American heritages. A gripping, literate military thriller with appeal to genre fans and readers of serious fiction alike. Highly recommended.-Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, Andover, Mass.
Kirkus Reviews
A suspense-free crack at a first thriller from Lee (Honor and Duty, 1993, etc.), in which a US Army captain—dispatched in 1974 to Korea's DMZ in search of a missing comrade—stumbles on crimes greater than kidnapping.

Jackson Hu-chin Kan, a Chinese-born graduate of West Point assigned to San Francisco's Presidio as a prosecuting attorney, is detached to check on the fate of a colleague who disappeared while on a fact-finding mission to the land of morning calm. Although reluctant to leave Cara Milano (the luscious love of his life) and return to Asia (where he suffered a traumatic experience as an infantry officer in Vietnam), Kan goes to the Far East. Once there, he finds the demilitarized zone separating North from South Korea a veritable island of lost souls. Kan (who spends a lot of time agonizing over the fact that he has a foot in two distinctly different worlds) also discovers this hardship post to be in thrall to its staff judge advocate, a messianic colonel named Frederick C. LeBlanc. As the Watergate investigation gathers momentum back in America, Kan locates and anticlimactically frees the abducted officer. Before he leaves for home, however, he decides to take on the sinister LeBlanc. It's well he does because the crazy colonel has stockpiled tactical nuclear weapons and trained a cadre of troops for use in a preemptive strike against North Korea to protect the perceived interests of the white race. Urged on by Song Sae Moon, a lissome shaman, and by an aging sergeant major whom LeBlanc once framed, Kan ("I am of two worlds. You make me feel my past and a connection ancient and strong") stymies the madman and helps keep the world safe for democracy—or at least diversity.

A labored narrative weighted down by a surfeit of East/West musings that, for all their mystic portent, come across as not much more than self-absorbed maunderings.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

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Amy Tan
A dazzling literary thriller.

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