George Sueño and Ernie Bascom return for their thirteenth outing, which takes them from Seoul to the DMZ in their most politically charged murder case yet.
The Korean Demilitarized Zone, 1970s: A battered corpse is found a few feet north of the line dividing North and South Korea. When 8th Army CID Agents George Sueño and Ernie Bascom pull the body to the South Korean side on orders from their superiors, they have no idea of the international conflict their action will spark. Before war breaks out, they must discover who killed Corporal Noh Jong-bei, a young Korean soldier working with the US Army.
The murderer could be on either side of the DMZ. But without cooperation between the governments involved, how can two US military agents interrogate North Korean witnesses? What George and Ernie discover gets them pulled off the case, but fearing they’ve put the wrong man behind bars, they disobey orders in an attempt to discover the truth.
About the Author
Martin Limón retired from military service after twenty years in the US Army, including ten years in Korea. He is the author of thirteen other Sueño and Bascom investigations: Jade Lady Burning, Slicky Boys, Buddha’s Money, The Door to Bitterness, The Wandering Ghost, GI Bones, Mr. Kill, The Joy Brigade, The Iron Sickle, The Ville Rat, Ping-Pong Heart, The Nine-Tailed Fox, and GI Confidenital, as well as the short story collection Nightmare Range. He lives near Seattle.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
“The Line” by Martin Limón is set in South Korea some 50 years after the “cease fire.” People living in Seoul are terrified by the prospect of another war. North Korea has heavily fortified positions all along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and is capable of launching an attack that would reach Seoul. “Just another day in the R-O-K.” Limón plunges readers into this tense situation through the first person account of George Sueño, an officer in 8th Army who conveniently speaks Korean, and his partner, Ernie Bascom, both agents for the United States Army Criminal Investigation Division, CID, in Seoul. The story is driven by the light-hearted banter, serious conversations, and thoughtful discussions between these two and the people they encounter. Sueño and Bascom are rousted awake at “oh-dark-thirty” by one word: “Murder.” Vivid details pulls the reader into the scene as the pair arrives and finds an unusually tense situation at the DMZ. Off in the distance, across the vast open space, just by “The Bridge of No Return” and North Korean territory, they see a body; the left boot is in South Korea, but the rest of the body is in North Korea. Guns are pointed by both sides, and no one will risk touching the body. With caution and trepidation, Sueño and Bascom slowly and carefully advance, and soon the body slides to the south. The pace is frantic as Sueño and Bascom try to determine how the man died, and more importantly who killed him. North Koreans? South Koreans? Gangsters? Russians? The possibilities are endless and the task is daunting. They have a suspect, but is this the correct perpetrator or is it just the politically expedient choice? Limón creates a realistic picture of life for military and civilians with a mix of cultural activities, everyday occurrences, and unusual events that are the consequences of life in the “occupied state” of South Korea. There is another intertwined story with an additional compelling crime that must be solved. Limón sprinkles in Korean culture and language (with translation). There is also military alphabet shorthand, (MAC, JSA, DMZ, MDL, KATUSA, CID, MDL, JSA, BOQ AFKN, ASCOM) “decoded” for readers on the first use, but not necessarily in subsequent uses “The Line” is number thirteen in Limón’s Sueño and Bascom series, but it is not necessary to have read the previous books to enjoy this one. Any background information a reader might need is folded into the scenarios of the current story. Even though the book is set in the mid-1970s the political tension, complex moral challenges, and social conflicts could have been pulled from today’s newspaper. I was given a copy of “The Line” by Martin Limon, and Soho Crime. This gripping book will keep readers guessing until the end.
There are two series of mysteries by Martin Limon that take place during or after wars in which the United States has participated. One is the wonderful Billy Boyle series, which takes place just before and during World War II. The other is the Bueno and Bascom investigations set in South Vietnam after the armistice. This, the 13th in the series, is the most dangerous one yet for the irreverent pair, taking them directly into conflict with the North Koreans at the DMZ. They are tasked with going right up to the line dividing North and South because of the murder of a South Korean corporal assigned to U.S. troops. The body lies across the line and they drag it back to the south, nearly causing a new war on the peninsula. An American private eventually is blamed, to assuage the North Koreans, but neither Bascom nor Bueno believes him guilty. However, they are taken off the case (but that doeesn’t stop them from pursuing it). Meanwhile, they have another case involving a bored wife of a Corps of Engineers Captain who goes missing. The author, who served a decade in the Army in Korea, applies his intimate knowledge to the fullest extent with detailed knowledge not only of Army life, but the conditions of the South Korean population. Written plainly with clever plotting, the story will keep the reader turning pages until he/she reaches the extremely unexpected conclusion. Recommended.