Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Crime in Korea's DMZ: Martin Limón, THE WANDERING GHOST (Soho Crime)

The editor of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Linda Lee Landrigan, mentioned about a month ago that it brings her great pleasure to see a story author from the magazine making a splash as a novelist in the Soho Crime list -- Martin Limón. So I started keeping an eye out, and soon found a copy of THE WANDERING GHOST, Limón's 2007 offering featuring Sergeants Sueño and Bascom -- a pair of agents for the 8th US Army Criminal Investigation Division in Seoul, Korea. Here's the summary from the Soho Crime web site:

The only female MP assigned to a base in the DMZ is missing. Has she been abducted, killed or, possibly, gone AWOL? Eighth Army cops George Sueño and Ernie Bascom, sent to find her, discover a murder that has been concealed, rampant black marketeering and corruption, crooked officers, rioting Korean civilians, and the wandering ghost of a schoolgirl run down by a speeding army truck. It is up to them to right egregious wrongs while being pursued by criminals who want to kill them.

I've got to say, my husband was feeling a bit lonely this past weekend, since I took every spare minute I could find and spent it chasing through Korean alleys, teahouses, and more dangerous locales with Sueño and Bascom. The action is in the 1970s, a far different time in terms of protest, danger, and the US relationship with North and South Korea. Sueño is smart and vulnerable, as well as darned good with martial arts and with basic Korean language; his partner Ernie Bascom is half crazy, but in mostly good ways, if you can stop him from taking out his rage on the next person that aggravates him.

Tight plotting, neatly posed insights, strong narrative: This is no amateur's book for sure. In fact, when Limón moved from stories to crime novels, his first one, JADE LADY BURNING (Soho Press 1992), turned out to be an award winner. Since then, he's also written SLICKY BOYS, BUDDHA'S MONEY, and THE DOOR TO BITTERNESS. Guess I'll have to find all of them for my shelf.

Oh yes, I also found a great interview with Limón, a 1993 piece from Over My Dead Body! Read it with a click here.

And Dave's likely to take his turn with THE WANDERING GHOST next. So don't worry. We're doing fine.

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