His former commander, Colonel Karl Hellmann, calls upon him to undertake a mission to
It has been 30 years since Brenner was sent to Vietnam
in 1968 as an infantryman with the 1st Calvary Division. Four years
later he had served a second tour of duty in Vietnam .
During his first tour Brenner had been caught up in the battles of the Tet
Hellmann wants Brenner to investigate an incident set out in a letter a North Vietnamese soldier had sent to his brother. The letter writer recounted witnessing in
the Tet Offensive, an American Army captain murder an American Lieutenant. Hellmann
wants Brenner to track down the witness and interview him about the event and
see if he can identify the Captain. A reluctant Brenner decides to return to
the land which has defined his adult life. Hue
Brenner leaves behind a developing relationship with his former
CID partner, Cynthia Sunhill.
On his arrival in
the former Ho Chi Minh City Saigon, Brenner finds that Colonel Mang,
ostensibly of the Vietnamese Immigration Police, has doubts about Brenner’s
claim that he is a veteran returning to his battlefields.
In Ho Chi Minh City Brenner finds a frantic culture embracing Western materialism while still governed by the Communist Party.
While there Brenner acquires an aide and traveling companion, the beautiful Susan Weber.
Trying to maintain his cover story Brenner and Weber leave
Brenner and Weber go to the A Shau Valley and the plateau on which the Khe Sanh camp was located and Quang Tri. In each location Brenner re-lives his battle experiences. In my next post on Friday I will discuss DeMille’s exploration of war.
Gradually Weber becomes a true partner in the investigation. She is clever and far better at dealing with the Vietnamese people. Brenner comes to rely on her.
As he pursues the investigation Brenner finds he has been misled by his superiors in
Further complicating the investigation are international diplomatic and
business intrigues that will be affected by the results of the search. Washington
Brenner is a dangerous investigator as he is determined to seek out the truth no matter the consequences. The journey of the present equally takes Brenner deep into his past.
The book at 702 pages is a grand historical saga wrapped around an excellent mystery.
I have not found DeMille a reliable read. On this war which was also the author’s war (he was an Army Lieutenant in
I found DeMille brilliant. DeMille may not be Brenner but the character he
created is alive on the pages. Vietnam
It was a book where I was drawn forward both wanting to find out what was going to happen next in the story and to learn more about Brenner. There comes a moment for me at the end of a very good book when I pause and say that was special. I had that moment this afternoon. (Dec. 27/12)