The second Sergeant George Sueño investigation, follow-up to the New York Times Notable Jade Lady Burning
The Slicky Boys rule the back alleys of 1970s Seoul. They can kill a man in a thousand gruesome ways. And you’ll never even see them coming. In order to combat the poverty facing South Korea, they sneak onto well-stocked American military compounds to steal, murder anyone in their way, and vanish. US Army Sergeant George Sueño and his partner, Ernie Bascom, take on the perilous mission of infiltrating this underground criminal syndicate when an innocent favor for an Itaewon bar girl leads to murder.
Retired career military man Limon has fashioned a colorful second thriller (after Jade Lady Burning) that pits two U.S. Army CID cops against a brutal Korean crime ring. It's 1975, and George Sueno and Ernie Bascom are cruising Itaewon, the red-light district of Seoul. Sueno, the brains of the two, grew up in foster homes in East L.A., learned Korean quickly and isn't nearly as baffled as most of his fellow soldiers by the complex Korean customs: "Their culture was just another puzzle to unravel, like so many I'd faced when the County of Los Angeles moved me from home to home." Bascom, meanwhile, has found the Army a better home than the one he's left behind in Detroit. A Vietnam vet, he's a blaze of mad action and sexual energy. Sueno and Bascom penetrate a terrifyingly efficient gang of Korean criminals--the "Slicky Boys"--run by a crafty villain called Herbalist So, who never shows himself to foreigners, though he makes an exception for the two American cops. It's good that he does, because Sueno comes to rely on him for help in finding the killer of a small-time British thief. Limon is not the most fluent of storytellers: he scants character motivation and his dialogue can be stiff. But there's atmosphere to spare here, and enough suspense to please, as he assembles a cast of unusual folk and sets them spinning amidst the complexities of an occupied and divided land.