Friday, September 25, 2015

Under Cover of Night

Under Cover of Night by Manning Lee Stokes. Originally published in 1957/58 by DELL, then reprinted in 1969 by MacFadden Books during the men’s adventure craze. Bob Fitzhugh had worked in Korea prior to the war, and now that it’s over he works as rewrite for the Cleveland Bulletin. His pal on the paper gets him an assignment back to Korea to write a series of articles on G.I.s stationed in Korea after the war. His pal has hidden plans for Fitzhugh, however. During the war he had been assigned to help a finance officer carry a million dollars from Seoul to a forward base to pay troops. They were attacked by rebels and driven into the mountains, only to be attacked by an allied fighter plane that killed the rebels. His pal had hidden the money, then made his way back to the front lines. Now that the war was over he wanted that million dollars, but a heart condition kept him from returning. That’s where Fitzhugh comes in. They will split the million dollars, if his pal will retrieve the money. He will tell Fitzhugh where it’s hidden.

The million dollars sounds good to Fitzhugh, so he agrees. Only things aren’t as easy as it appears. The C.I.D., Korean rebels, and Korean commies also know the rumor and story behind the hidden cash. His pal had been kept under surveillance and it was known the minute Fitzhugh reached Korea, and he doesn’t know whom he can trust. This was one of the early novels by Manning Lee Stokes. He would write many of the men’s adventure novels through the 60s and 70s, under numerous pseudonyms and house names. Most of them would be hit and miss. My main complaint with many of them was his lack of knowledge of the countries where his stories were set; usually the settings seemed false. But in “Under Cover of Night” he knowledge of Korea appears very believable, and I’m guessing he spent time in Korea, or knew someone that had. Although the story fairly slow, the characters were interesting, and it was definitely a fun read.