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Slicky Boys (1997)

by Martin Limón

Series: Sueño and Bascom (book 2)

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1424192,395 (3.81)2
George Sue±o and his partner, Ernie Bascom, thought they'd seen it all. For military cops in Korea, drive-by shootings, flesh peddler's drug rings--they're all in a day's work. But nothing prepared them for the slickest criminals this side of the DMZ. The Slicky Boys were everywhere. They could kill a man a thousand ways you don't even want to know about. And you'll never hear them coming. The Slicky Boys steal, they kill, they slip away. And George and Ernie are about to discover that even the U.S. military is no match for evil, and that human sympathy can sometimes lead to a lonely grave. From the Paperback edition.… (more)
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Showing 4 of 4
Slicky Boys takes place in 1975 where U.S. Army criminal investigation agents Corporal George Sueno and Sergeant Ernie Bascom enjoy their duty assignment in Seoul, South Korea. While doing their usual tour of the bars and whorehouses, a local hooker named Eun-hi tells them that a virtuous woman wants to meet them at the Kayagum Teahouse. Ernie persuades George to see what the woman wants. After meeting Miss Ku they are convinced to deliver a note to British soldier Cecil Whitcomb. Not long afterward Cecil is savagely hacked up in an alley and Miss Ku vanishes. Before long Sueno and Bascom step into more trouble when they stir up antagonisms trying to crush a cartel of sadistic black marketeers.

These boys are no angels, and their investigative techniques would probably get them arrested back home. The author has captured with such authenticity and even-handedness the world of a US Army base town in South Korea in the 1970s, when 19 year-old GIs were the biggest spenders in the country. The prejudices, virtues and vices of both Americans and Koreans are explored. I find this series especially entertaining having spent some time in Korea during this time period.
( )
  Olivermagnus | Jan 17, 2016 |
George Sueño and his partner Ernie Bascom are both grateful to the army. What for? For George it is because he has a real life, money coming in, and having a job to do. He and Ernie are CID investigators for the 8th United States Army in Seoul, Korea. They wear suits and did important work, something George never thought he would do growing up in East LA. Ernie's Chicago youth also left much to be desired.

After work these two friends and partners spend their free time in Itaewan a seedy part of town filled with bars and business women. On this occasion they do a favor for one of the girls they met and it results in the death of a British soldier. It turned out that he was a little shady and as the CID investigators they need to find his murder before they themselves are in hot water for perhaps leading him to his death.

Part of the investigation reveals connection to a wide spread systematic thievery of the American enclaves. After the devastation of the Korean war twenty years before people were desperate and and starving. In the middle of these wastelands were American military settlements surrounded by barbed wire, and these were the only places with food, clothing and shelter. The people would barter with the GI's for the wealth they held be it so small as a used bar of soap. Others were more aggressive using thievery. 'Slick boys' is what the GI's called them and it was softened to slicky boys by the Koreans. Many were exactly that, boys of 6 to 10 years old. They would slip through the wire and take anything that could fit in their pockets.

As Sueño's investigation proceeds he feels that he is becoming wrapped in the tentacles of a giant squid. There are more brutal murders and the partners find far reaching fingers in the pie such as the North Koreans, the Korean Police, the Korean and the US Navy. The case is dragging them down to the deeps of evil. On the surface at least part of the problem is the lose of military secrets.

Martin Limon takes us to a Korea that is fascinating, exciting and very complex. He uses a bit of the history of the people he writes about to make us appreciate a very different oriental culture that has suffered for for the last centuries. ( )
  Condorena | Apr 2, 2013 |
No one in the military is ever very excited to encounter Sgt. Ernie Bascom and Sgt. George Sueno from the Criminal Investigation Division of the U.S. Army, but the reader of these mysteries will be certainly be glad to make their acquintance. ( )
  zenosbooks | Feb 25, 2009 |
Not a bad book overall but the use of lots of clichés tags this solidly in the first novel category for me.

(Full review at my blog) ( )
  KingRat | Jun 17, 2008 |
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George Sue±o and his partner, Ernie Bascom, thought they'd seen it all. For military cops in Korea, drive-by shootings, flesh peddler's drug rings--they're all in a day's work. But nothing prepared them for the slickest criminals this side of the DMZ. The Slicky Boys were everywhere. They could kill a man a thousand ways you don't even want to know about. And you'll never hear them coming. The Slicky Boys steal, they kill, they slip away. And George and Ernie are about to discover that even the U.S. military is no match for evil, and that human sympathy can sometimes lead to a lonely grave. From the Paperback edition.

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