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Up Country: A Novel Hardcover – January 29, 2002

4.1 out of 5 stars 837 customer reviews
Book 2 of 2 in the Paul Brenner Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Up Country, Nelson DeMille cannily revives the army career of Chief Warrant Officer Paul Brenner, the cynical, hardworking Criminal Investigation Division man who was forcibly retired after solving the high-profile killing in The General's Daughter. Brenner's called back to investigate the murder of a young army lieutenant by his captain. The catch is, the crime took place during the heat of the Tet Offensive, and the only living witness was a North Vietnamese soldier who described the incident in a 30-year-old letter that has only recently come to light. Soon Brenner, a Vietnam vet, is on an ostensible nostalgia tour of his old stomping grounds. The trip immediately turns dangerous as he heads "up country" to search for the letter writer, accompanied by a gorgeous American businesswoman, who's hiding more than even the smartest CID officer could imagine.

DeMille, who saw his own tour of duty in Vietnam (and even found a letter on a dead Vietnamese soldier), intersperses historical facts and chilling political possibilities with enough local color to provide some serious flashbacks for his fellow veterans. To non-vets the book may seem very long, but the payoff at the end is worth a couple hundred extra pages. --Barrie Trinkle

From Publishers Weekly

That DeMille has written a sequel to The General's Daughter comes as no surprise; after all, that's arguably his best-known novel because of the hit film version starring John Travolta. Nor is it surprising that he's set this sequel in Vietnam; returning hero Chief Warrant Officer Paul Brenner, Ret., served two stints there during the war, and DeMille himself not only saw action in Nam but returned in 1997 for an extended visit. What is curious, and relatively unfortunate, is that the long narrative focuses so much on travelogue instead of intrigue and action; it's as if DeMille, a wickedly fine thriller writer, has been possessed by the soul of James Michener. Still, the overarching story line captivates, as Brenner agrees to return to Vietnam to track down a Vietnamese witness to a 30-year-old unprosecuted crime, in which a U.S. Army captain murdered an army lieutenant and plundered some treasure. Joined by beautiful Susan Weber, who says she's an American expat businesswoman doing a favor for the U.S. government, Brenner travels to the little village where the witness may still live; along the way, the pair flirt, sightsee, visit a nude beach, sightsee, have sex, sightsee, and talk a lot. The sightseeing carries serious emotional impact as Brenner processes his wartime past and Vietnam's present, and it carries serious risk, as Colonel Mang of the secret police tracks Brenner's and Susan's movements. There's some violence as the two Americans elude Mang and his minions, and a melodramatic finale as Brenner realizes just who the murderous captain now is, and some dramatic suspense as Brenner peels away layers of Susan's identity covers. And then there's blasted, resilient Vietnam, which DeMille captures expertly, in all its anguished pride. With a film version in development at Paramount and the Warner publicity machine working at top gear, expect this engrossing but not exceptional novel to shoot to the top. 15-city author tour.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books (January 29, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446516570
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446516570
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (837 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I thought Nelson DeMille's first novel, Word of Honor, was a critical success, a thoughtful exploration of a former army officer who is charged with a murder committed during his Viet Nam tour, years after his discharge.
Since DeMille successfully published other novels, I have no doubt Word of Honor was also a commercial success. In my mind, although commercial successes, these other novels, failed critically.
With Up Country, DeMille demonstrates he has not lost his critical touch. He melds his emotionally draining experience of a return trip to Viet Nam in 1997 with his successful commercial formula and produces a great novel. The story is simple. Paul Brenner, retired from the army's Criminal Investigation Division and a Viet Nam vet, is asked to return to Viet Nam and investigate an American army lieutenant's death, who authorities suspect may have been murdered three decades ago.
DeMille's commercial formula remains the same. A strong, independent-minded, wise-cracking male falls in love with a self-assured female and together the overcome intrigue, action and adventure.
Brenner's emotional journey as he unearths his own painful memories of Viet Nam makes the book worth reading and in my mind, vaults it to critical success. As the author concludes, a journey home is never direct, but somewhere along the way, we discover that it is more relevant than the destination and the people we meet along its path will be traveling companions in our minds for the rest of our lives.
DeMille always relates a great story; this one is worth reading carefully.
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Format: Hardcover
It's true, this is not a typical Nelson Demille thriller packed with intrigue, espionage and murder, but it is a fascinating story and obviously a topic that means a great deal to him. Paul Brenner, from The General's Daughter, is back and is called out of retirement to go back to Vietnam to perform a vaguely described mission for his former bosses at CID. As a veteran, Vietnam is the last place in the world he wants to go, however curiosity eventually overcomes his misgivings and he agrees to the mission.
Starting at Saigon, Brenner proceeds to accomplish two missions, one official and the other personal. He makes contact with Susan Weber who is more than she appears. He also relives many moments from the days during the war, exorcising some old demons along the way. From Saigon he heads north, up country, visiting old battlegrounds and lending great insight to us, the reader, into what life was like as an American GI in Vietnam.
I found this book to be a fascinating and informative adventure story. With so much travelling done by Brenner, there is no time for it to become slow and boring. The actual reason for his mission to Vietnam eventually becomes of secondary importance as I got caught up in the country and it's meaning to Brenner. By the end, it really made no difference to me what the final outcome was, I was satisfied by the journey however it turned out.
This book is obviously of special importance to Demille and feels as though it's a kind of homage to Vietnam and the people of both sides who fought there. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, appreciated the humour in which it was told and respect the emotion that it evokes. I fell richer for the experience of having read it.
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Format: Hardcover
For my tastes, Nelson DeMille writes good books and marginal ones. Thanks to "Up Country" arriving in Hong Kong a month or so before its U.S. release date, I've read the book and thought I would offer a few observations to fans and new readers alike.
"Up Country" is billed in the blurb as a military murder mystery that took place 30 years ago in Vietnam. Paul Brenner, of "General's Daughter" fame, is back, called upon by his old commanding officer to return to Vietnam and investigate the killing of a U.S. lieutenant by his captain during the Tet Offensive.
The reason I say "billed as a murder mystery" is because the action of that plot line takes up only about fifty pages of this 654-page novel. The rest is travelogue, war history and personal reminiscence.
DeMille at his best does description and dialogue well. The fact that Paul Brenner of "Up Country" is indistinguishable in attitude and conversation from John Corey in "The Lion's Game" doesn't detract too much. I like cynical, sarcastic characters, and I suspect that it is DeMille's personality coming through, which makes me like him more. And since the author was in Vietnam at the same time as his protagonist, I'm even more convinced that we're listening to Nelson DeMille strolling down memory lane. That is not necessarily a bad thing if you approach the book from this angle.
What was troublesome for me, having read many of his other books, was turning the pages looking for a little action. Don't hold your breath. It's a travel book - good for those who never served and want to know how it was, or for those who served and never returned but would like to from the comfort of their sofas. But it was a let-down for someone who was there and imagined that when he finally went back it would be by plane rather than by book.
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Format: Hardcover
Retired military investigator Paul Brenner is confronted with a trip back to Vietnam in this DeMille mystery and thriller. A letter written by a Vietnamese soldier during the battle of Hue in '68 has been discovered and it details the grisly murder of an American Lieutenant by another American officer. His former boss asks him to go investigate - to see if the author is still alive - and to 'resolve the situation'.
Knowing he hasn't been given all of the details, but smart enough to fill in many of the blanks, Brenner is more than willing to engage in a cathartic trip back to the venues that so dramatically altered his life during his first two tours of duty.
DeMille does a wonderful job describing the modern landscape of Vietnam, where the divide between south and north still exists and the bitter after-effects of war are still tasted on a daily basis. Saigon, Hue, Dien Bin Phu, Hanoi and the countryside are all described in rich detail. Those who criticize this book as a travelogue are missing the point. Where else can one experience - almost firsthand - today's Vietnam viewed through the eyes of a returning veteran?
The details of the story are taut and compelling (even hough I would agree many of the elements are a tad predicatable). It may be a combination mystery and travelogue, but even with its minor shortcomings, DeMille's talents shine through, enlightening, engaging - sometimes startling - and completely absorbing.
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