Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Martin Limón, real war, and fictional crime

Martin Limón's novels have a Cold War setting (Korea in the 1970s), but they began appearing around the time the United States resumed large-scale combat involvement for the first time since the Vietnam War.

Jade Lady Burning, Limón's first novel about U.S. Army investigators George Sueño and Ernie Bascom, appeared in 1992, which means he may have been writing it during the Persian Gulf war of 1990 and 1991. Two more books appeared by 1998, and the series resumed in 2005, by which time the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were underway.

Limón's novels give a rich picture of U.S. troops' daily (and nightly) life. Have American readers grown more interested in such matters since they've been reading and seeing war news every day for almost ten years? If so, was this is a factor in Limón's decision to write his books and his publishers' to issue them? Perhaps I'll find out late next week.

 And now, what are your favorite crime stories with military settings? Why  is the military a good setting for crime writing? (Limón weighed on this subject at Bouchercon 2009). If you don't think war and crime fiction mix, why not?
***
Martin Limón will be part of my “NEVER LET ME GO: PASSPORT TO MURDER” panel on Saturday, Sept. 17, 1 p.m., at Bouchercon 2011.

© Peter Rozovsky 2011

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17 Comments:

Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

Lee Child did a good job with that in his early Reacher books. And I remember one Rumpole story where Rumpole defends an officer on a murder charge in a military court.

September 07, 2011  
Blogger Fred said...

My favorite crime stories with a military background or setting?

Now that I think about it, I actually don't have any. I wonder why that is.

I've read two of the Billy Boyle novels and found them OK, but I really don't have any interest in reading more.

I don't think it's because I'm opposed to anything involving the military. One of my favorite TV mystery series (and saddened that it has come to an end) is _Foyle's War_, set during WWII. Many of the episodes involved the military in various ways.

I will be watching the comments section here, hoping to pick up a few suggestions. Because of your posts, I'm going to look into the Martin Limon series.

September 07, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I.J., is Jack Reacher ex-military? ex-cop? Both?

September 07, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Fred, have you read the first Billy Boyle novel, called simply, Billy Boyle? It's different in tone from Martin Limon's books, but, like them, it gives a rich convincing, picture of an aspect of military life that most people would probably not think about when they think of military life.

A few authors write crime fiction set in wartime that includes military protagonists, but I'm not sure the military itself is their setting the way it is in Limon's and Benn's books.

September 07, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

I don't know that I have read any military crime novels, now that you mention it.

I did like the movie A Few Good Men, though. One of Tom Cruise's better vehicles.

September 07, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It's easy to forget amid all his personal weirdness that Tom Cruise has or had talent.

I don't think there have been many depictions of the military as a setting for crime. That's what makes Limon's books interesting. Limon will mention from the time the military's Judge Advocate General's Corps, or JAG. There was a television series called JAG, which may be relevant to this discussion.

September 07, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

A lot of JAG fans out there. My mom was one. I probably should have watched them.

September 08, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I suppose JAG combined military and courtroom drama rather than military and police procedural. Still, the mentions in Limon's novels make me wonder whether the show looked at military justice the way Limon looks at military law enforcement.

September 08, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

I do plan to read Limon. It sounds like he's carved out some interesting territory.

September 08, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

He has. He's hard on military brass, which one might expect, but he also has some tough comments about the all-volunteer army being responsible for bunches of barely educated teenagers running amok in Seoul's red-light districts.

He served, I think, ten years in Korea, and his wife his Korean, so he brings some interesting experience and, presumably, sympathy and understanding to his writing.

September 08, 2011  
Blogger Fred said...

Peter,

Yes, I read the first two Billy Boyle novels, _Billy Boyle_ and the one that coincides with the North African invasion. I thought they were OK and would have no objections if the group selected another one, but for some reason, they didn't grab me enough so that I went looking for the third.

I found a copy of Limon's _Jade Lady Burning_ on line and ordered it.

September 08, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

Reacher is ex-military police. That is, he was still serving in the early novels, but has left the service now.

September 08, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Fred, I thought the opening chapters of Billy Boyle did am exceptional job of presenting this brash kid heading off to England, then having his eyes opened by what he saw there.

September 08, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Martin Limon's protagonists, Sueno and Bascom, are pains to their superiors, but in the books I've read, neither has so much as hinted that he'd rather be out of the military. Limon is in the military, and I think that's his milieu. I don't think his characters are potential Reachers, in other words.

September 08, 2011  
Blogger Fred said...

Peter,

I read _Billy Boyle_ because it was the selection of a F-T-F mystery group I belong to. I liked it sufficiently to read the second one on my own, but never bothered to go beyond the second one.

Perhaps the opening chapters of _BB_ were what persuaded me to go on to the second book, and I didn't go beyond because it was lacking in the second book.

September 08, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Panama Paradox, by Michael Wolfe. Two Star Pigeon, same author. Michael Wolfe is the pen name of . . . and won the Poe award in the 1970's.

September 27, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I’ve got a Michael Wolfe was a finalist for the best-first-novel Edgar in 1974 for Man on a String. Is that him?

September 27, 2011  

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