Martin Limón: G.I. Bones
Soho Crime 2009
G.I. Bones is the sixth in Martin Limón’s excellent series featuring George Sueño and Ernie Bascom, detectives from the US military based in 1970s Seoul. The first in the series, Jade Lady Burning, was published nearly 20 years ago in 1992, but our investigators are still in their 20s. Maybe reflecting the author’s advancing years, they are less inclined to drink life-threatening amounts of alcohol than in previous outings, but Bascom still displays his characteristic philandering tendencies and willingness to pick a fight.
Sueño and Bascom are asked to investigate a 20-year old case in which a hard-working G.I. mysteriously disappeared. A murder was suspected in some quarters, but without a body there’s no proof. It’s these bones which are the subject of the novels title. In investigating the circumstances of the G.I.’s disappearance, Sueño and Bascom are following a trail that has gone cold, but as usual their intimate knowledge of Seoul’s dark underbelly comes in handy. As they try to figure out where the body might be buried they discover a complex web of relationships between the US military and the gangsters who are benefiting from the postwar reconstruction of Itaewon. As the truth about the murder in the 1950s becomes clearer, the present-day body count mounts, while Sueño and Bascom have to negotiate the minefields of equal-opportunity political correctness and also make sure that a senior US officer is not embarrassed by the precocious behaviour of his teenage daughter.
All in all, vintage Limón which races by all too quickly. If you haven’t discovered these books yet, you are strongly encouraged to try them.