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Nightmare Range: The Collected Sueno and…
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Nightmare Range: The Collected Sueno and Bascom Short Stories

by Martin Limón

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This anthology of short stories serves as an ideal introduction to the world of Sueño and Bascome, American army investigators in South Korea during the 1970s. If you enjoy Martin Limón’s full-length novels then these mini-mysteries will be a welcome to return to the sweltering, sex-soaked streets of the Ville, where servicemen spend their R&R hours and their dollars, where black marketeers seek to turn a shilling on every transaction, and where working girls are so very often the victims of indiscriminate violence.

Limón is a gifted writer, capable of dragging the reader into this exotic, intimidating and at time painfully poignant environment with minimal explanation or introduction. Sueño and Bascombe are military policemen, investigating crimes which involve Americans, from black-market sales of goods from the base, to the assault or murder of Korean nationals which may have a US involvement.

While Bascombe stays firmly in the background – acting as muscle when required – we get to know Sueño in some depth, a man motivated by his own morality and a sense of respect for the local population. He’s no saint – and just as likely to spend a wild night in town with the girls as the next serviceman – but each of these stories reveals his sensitivity to the victim’s plight. He’s one of the few who tries to understand the culture and society surrounding him, and through him Limón reveals the substantial impact of the permanent foreign army which keeps the northern enemy at bay.

Some of these tales are challenging or unsettling; others grim but morally satisfying. It’s to Limón’s credit that he achieves in a short story what many authors struggle to accomplish in an entire novel. The military details and the aura of authenticity about the place, period and situation feels entirely credible.

These stories weren’t written for one anthology, however, and were originally published elsewhere. Necessarily then they repeat the background info, and they share a tone and tempo which can become a little over-powering if you read them all at once. Best to read them in between other books, to ensure that each episode retains its full impact.
8/10

There's more about this at
https://murdermayhemandmore.wordpress.com/2016/03/15/nightmare-range-sleaze-and-spirituality-in-south-korea/ ( )
  RowenaHoseason | Jun 22, 2016 |
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A collection of Martin Limon's award-winning short stories featuring the heroes of his critically acclaimed crime novels includes pieces that have been published throughout the past 20 years in such magazines as Alfred Hitchcock.

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