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By Martin Limon
Soho Press, 2009 ($24)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
Army C.I.D. investigator George Sueno puts little stock in fortune tellers, but when Doctor Yong In-ja, head of public health in the region where he's stationed, asks him to accompany her and Miss Kwon to visit Auntie Mee, he agrees. Miss Kwon has been traumatized by the bad behavior of men, Korean and American, and Doc Yong believes Sueno, a kind, compassionate, thoughtful man when he's not kicking butt and taking names, might help her get over her fear. Also, George has a yen for Doc Yong, not because of her beauty, but because of her intelligence. In a world where he's surrounded by corrupt officials, Korean and American criminals, and inept authorities, she is a breath of fresh air. She's not as keen on him, but he has hope.
For some reason, Auntie Mee had asked for Sueno by name. Her reason soon becomes clear: she wants to arrest a G.I. who's been bothering her night and day, nagging her about getting someone to find his bones and return him to America so he can rest in peace. The G.I., whom she calls "Mori Di," has been dead for over twenty years, soon after peace was declared, during the rebuilding boom. If he doesn't find the bones, Auntie tells Sueno that Miss Kwon will die. What can he do but say "I'll try."
Sueno and his partner, Ernie Bascom, have been working on the black market problem, not the most exciting duty. They are abruptly called off that detail to handle a very sensitive case. Jessica Tidwell, seventeen-year-old daughter of a high-ranking officer, has gone missing, along with $1,000 in American money from her daddy's safe. Jessica is no stranger to the guys. She is an Army brat in the truest sense of the word: spoiled, headstrong, and committed to defying or embarrassing her parents every chance she gets. They find the young lady, but not her G.I. boyfriend or the money. Jessica leads them on a merry chase across South Korea as they try to track down the missing G.I. and/or the money.
In their spare time, George and Ernie search through old records looking for a missing G.I. with the unlikely name of "Mori Di." Their search leads them to one Sgt. Florencio Moretti, missing, presumed dead, soon after peace was declared. He disappeared under suspicious circumstances, and most people wrote him off, but one investigator, who signed his reports "Cort," didn't give up. He left detailed notes, important clues, and names of people who might have information, if they can be found.
Moretti was a good man, who worked hard to rebuild the devastated country. Most of his buildings were handed over to the Korean government, or to gangsters who didn't care if the people had decent places to live. He built an orphanage, thinking the bad guys couldn't take that away. Sadly, he was wrong. There were some people who were very opposed to Moretti's philanthropy, and they put a stop to it. Some of them are still around, and they have no intention of letting George and Ernie complete their quest.
The guys are just as determined to find Mori Di, and right some very old wrongs. In the process, Doc Yong grows a bit fonder of George, Miss Kwon finds her strength and loses her fear, and a soldier finally goes home.
G.I. Bones is the sixth book in this excellent series. Limon, who spent many years in the Army, shows respect for Korean culture, and recreates post-war Korea vividly and believably. His writing is gritty, poignant, funny, and sometimes contemplative.
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