Sergeant Corbin #2: “The Sergeant And The Queen” by Robert Crane (Con Leslie Sellers). This takes place in 1963, ten years after the first story “Sergeant Corbin’s War” that was set in the final months of the Korean War. In this story, military leaders in the South & North plan to put a queen on the throne of Korea, bringing the divided Koreas together once more. A descendant of a former queen has been found in America, Helen Min (Min Kilja), her ancestor had ruled Korea before her, and Korea would follow a new queen of the same bloodline. It was Corbin’s job to infiltrate North Korea with her, where their counterparts would plan her rise. Corbin is no longer an American soldier, but works for ROK General Pak Son Ap and Sheldon Shapiro of G-2 (Army Intelligence). He is known as The Butcher; he kills North Korean infiltrators and hangs their heads on poles as a warning to the North. The son of ministers who were killed by the Japanese, Corbin quotes the Bible, but knows no god. He was born in Korea, and has a Korean wife, so is a man of two countries. But his sympathies lie with Korea. The story has a good plot, but was slow. When there was action, it was fast, violent, and well-written, just not enough action to move the story along, so there was a lot of drag. Corbin loves his wife and wants to be faithful, but he finds Helen Min attractive sexually, and we have to read about this attraction page after page, along with the hatred of his parents and their religion. As a soldier who served on the Korean DMZ in 1959-’60, I enjoyed the familiar towns and areas described in the book. The author was probably more interesting than his fiction character. He served in two wars, was also a newspaper correspondent in Korea. He was a boxer, holding a title, and trained boxers. Again, a good story, it just needed more action, and less meaningless feelings he has of his parents, wife, and lust for Min Kilja.
Friday, October 28, 2016
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
“The Fever Tree” by Richard Mason. The author of “The World of Susie Wong” returns with a similar novel that takes place in India and Napal instead of Hong Kong. Major Ronald Birkett of England is a cad. He uses people for his own gain. Ex British military, now a secret communist, he is a professional writer (the main character in Susie Wong was an amateur artist); he is also an assassin, and his job is to kill the Nepalese king. While in Delhi, India he meets Lakshmi Kapoor, an unhappy married woman looking for a fling with an Englishman. She falls in love with Birkett, who dismisses her affection, not relishing the idea of love. However, he slowly begins to fall in love with the beautiful Indian girl, and she becomes a distraction, while British intelligence might be on his trail. He sets up the kill using a local Indian Embassy official, a young married man, and father of two, with communist ties. The plan is to have the young man assassinate the king while he, Birkett, is elsewhere. The fever tree is Birkett’s dream of the African plain where he is a cheetah, a sleek, strong predator. This was another interesting story by Mason, but lacks the beauty of “The World of Susie Wong”, as well as the unforgettable characters from the earlier book. More literary than men’s action novel, it is still a good read.