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G.I. Bones (Sueno & Bascom Mysteries, Book 5) Hardcover – November 1, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When a Korean fortune-teller claims the spirit of a long dead American soldier is bothering her at the outset of Limón's well-crafted sixth mystery to feature U.S. Army criminal investigators George Sueño and Ernie Bascom (after 2007's The Wandering Ghost), the pair delve deep into the more than 20-year-old case of Tech. Sgt. Florencio R. Moretti, who went missing in 1953 and is presumed dead. At first, their mission is simply to find Moretti's remains, but as they search for the truth in Seoul's red-light district, Itaewon, they uncover a past of military and government corruption, prostitution and murder. As usual, Sueño and Bascom don't hesitate to put their own lives and careers at risk. Limón's own experiences as a U.S. soldier stationed in Korea serve to enrich the intricate portrait of 1970s Seoul. While excessive attention to details of Korean language and dialect slow the pace at times, loyal fans and newcomers alike should be pleased. Author tour. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Military Police Sergeants Sueño and Bascom are pitted against the Seven Dragons, gang lords of Itaewon, the red-light district of Seoul, in this sixth volume in the highly praised and popular crime series set in 1970s Korea. The plot is crisp, the characters are fully portrayed, and the dialogue is convincing. But perhaps the author's greatest strength is his richly rendered atmosphere. With a full palette of sights, sounds, smells, and tastes, he creates a window into another world, a foreign culture (for most American readers), and a set of circumstances fraught with intrigue, danger, hope, and passion. The two sergeants of the United States 8th Army Criminal Investigation Detachment are called upon to find the bones of a G.I. named Moretti, who was murdered some 20 years earlier but whose body was never found. Now, some two decades later, his bones become restless, apparently stalking a fortune-teller, Aunti Mee. She calls upon the resourceful team of Sueño and Bascom to find the bones and send them back to the United States, so that both the dead and the living can get some peace. The sergeants pursue the case, against the wishes of nearly everyone in positions of authority and power. A subplot involves an Army officer's teenage daughter who goes missing, and who is determined to free herself from the shackles of her overbearing parents. That's an old story, but one that is given a new setting and new consequences in Limón's gritty, always entertaining novel.–Robert Saunderson, formerly at Berkeley Public Library, CA END
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Crime; First Edition edition (November 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569476039
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569476031
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #716,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

At seventeen, Martin Limon joined the army and served briefly as a reporter for the Pacific Stars & Stripes in Seoul, Korea. During five tours in Korea, he studied the language, traveled the country from the DMZ to the Yellow Sea, and was personally embroiled in the clash of cultures on this trip-wire edge of the American empire. His first novel, Jade Lady Burning, was published by Soho Press in 1992 and was selected as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times. The series features 8th Army detectives George Sueno, from East L.A., and Ernie Bascom, a native of the suburbs of Detroit.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Korean fortuneteller Aunti Mee insists The Wandering Ghost of Tech Sergeant Florencio R. Moretti will not leave her alone. The GI went missing two decades ago back in 1953. U.S. 8th Army Criminal Investigation Detachment investigators Sergeants George Sueno and Ernie Bascom are assigned to investigate what everyone in CID including them assumes is a corpse.

The two military cops enter the Itaewon red light sector of Seoul seeking clues that will lead to Moretti's remains so he can be properly buried back in the States. The pair also searches for a missing military teenage dependent of whom they assume is a runaway. Neither expected they would face the wrath of the Seven Dragons gang who own the district; both expected the wrath of superiors who want Moretti's bones to remain interred wherever they are.

This is a super historical military police procedure that brings to life 1970s Seoul and to a degree how Koreans and soldiers of that era looked back to the end of the Korean Conflict. The mysteries of the missing dependent and the murder of Moretti are excellent, but it is the historiographer's delight of time and place that make G.I. BONES and the series a winner.

Harriet Klausner
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By C. J. Hale on November 13, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If the author wasn't assigned to CID in Korea, he was very close or he has remarkable research abilities. I was commanding a counterintelligence unit there during that period, worked closely with the CID, and I can attest to the realism of the CID's anti-blackmarketing activities and the the geography, language/terminology and people of Itaewon. It was a wild and wooly period in the Republic of Korea. The book is a pretty fair mystery too.
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Format: Hardcover
Jade Lady Burning, Martin Limon's first Sueno and Bascomb mystery, rightfully earned The New York Times' "Notable Book of the Year" accolade. It was a haunting story of two young military cops in 1970's Korea.

The characters were a terrific duo in the tradition of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin: a redneck Anglo who thinks with his fists and a sensitive Hispanic who has found an intellectual home in an Asian country and a physical home in the Army. The author's command of plot was evidence of his first hand experience of police procedure as a CID investigator in Korea himself. His grasp of the setting -his appreciation of the culture and geography of Korea - grew from his own deep love of the peninsula.

G.I. Bones is the latest Sueno and Bascomb mystery and the best of them. It involves the death of a saintly GI at the end of the Korean War, a gang of hoodlums who control Itaewon, the red light district outside of Eigth Army Headquarters which has always been Ground Zero for all of Limon's mysteries and a rebellious daughter of a high ranking officer.

As an introduction to the series, G.I. Bones is perfect. The conflicts between the Army and the locals it is there to protect, between North and South Korea, between cops and brass, between good guys and bad guys all stand out in sharp relief. For those who know the series already, G.I. Bones is a particular treat, showing the development of Mr. Limon as a writer and the growth of the characters themselves. A little of Sueno has rubbed off on Bascomb, and vice versa.

The result is a rich and deeply affecting glimpse of a different time and a different place with universal concerns.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found the majority of this book on par with the rest of the series, but the last chapter took the book down 1 star. Without providing spoilers, I will just say that the last chapter seemed like an apology written long after the rest of the book was completed. A character that was despised and painted in a negative light for the entirety of the novel is suddenly not such a bad guy and a close friend of Bascom and Sueno. It made no sense within the context of the story and was likely an addition required by the editor/publisher.

The rest of the story surrounding the crime and investigation was an enjoyable read, but that ending...
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I'm not much of a fan of detective or mystery fiction, but I've read all of Limon's with great enjoyment and enthusiasm. In fact, I'm on Amazon to day to order his upcoming release. I was in Korea around the time he writes about, although unhappily in the 2nd Division area, and I can vouch for the superior factual accuracy of his settings both geographical and cultural. Every fact I knew about Korea and Korean culture that he discusses is done so accurately and, perhaps more tellingly, I've learned more about this fascinating country in reading Limon than I did by experience in 13 months there. Anyone who served in Korea in Seoul or north of there in the mid-70s does himself (or herself) a grave disservice by missing out on Limon's novels.

GI Bones, the most recent, is by far his best in terms of writing. It's possible to observe a progressive increase in the quality of all of his books, but this one shows the most marked improvement in his character and narrative skills. Although Door to Bitterness and Wandering Ghost were of most interest to me from a historical perspective (and their scathing descriptions of the Second Division, its leadership and its personnel), Limon does his best work in G.I. Bones in setting up his plot and the background and developing the story. Also, the narrator Sgt. Sueno continues his progress from a more or less neutral character in Jade Lady Burning to an ever-deeper and more likable individual here. I'm really very surprised that these excellent stories haven't been optioned for films and developed, because they are so much better than the standard dreck that Hollywood puts out by the bushel. Limon is a wonderful writer and the only complaint I have is that he started publishing later in life. Hopefully he'll have lots more output in coming years.
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