Saturday, August 01, 2009

Upcountry - Book Review

The other day, I posted a quote about the book Upcountry, by Nelson DeMille. I finished reading the book and thought I'd post a review. I had read other DeMille novels - Plum Island, The Lion's Game and Nightfall, and knew this would be an adventure. The further I got into the new novel, the more adventurous it became.

Upcountry is set mostly in Vietnam. The lead character, Paul Brenner, is a retired Vietnam War veteran who stayed in the Army for several years in the Criminal Investigation Division. After his exit from CID, he is called back for one case - to investigate a 30 year old murder that occurred during the height of the war.

Brenner's travel to Vietnam brings back a lot of memories, some of them quite graphic (not for kids). While I was too young to know details back then, the details provided in this book seem accurate and an epilogue explains DeMille's background and gives authenticity.

Of course there has to be a woman involved, in this case it's Susan Weber. She's been in Vietnam for a number of years and likes the fact that she's living in a new territory, likened to the Old West. Susan decides to accompany Brenner and he's not sure he wants her there.

Typical for DeMille, the novel is action packed. There's some romance in it, and a lot of unanswered questions at the end (but none that affect the quality of the story). The novel is somewhat of a sequel to The General's Daughter (which was made into a John Travolta movie), but I didn't know this until half-way through and I didn't miss anything.

Vietnam War veterans may find this book brings back memories and that could be good or bad. Also, the graphic descriptions could prove too graphic for some people - on at least one occasion I had to take a break from reading to wash my hands. But the story line was excellent and kept you guessing as to what would come next. The ending questions (what happens to Susan Weber?) are not so bothersome as to leave you hanging - I hate it when that happens and often refuse to buy the sequel on purpose alone.

Lately, the idea of race relations has been forefront on my mind, and this book helped understand the issues a little deeper. As noted in my previous post, the regional pride of the North and South Vietnamese, seemed to echo the regional differences in the U.S.

All together, a very good read, I recommend it. I'm interested in your opinion.

1 comment:

The Lightning Man said...

The General's Daughter was an okay movie, unless you were an Army MP. I do tend to be overly critical of movies that portray my alma mater.

The book was better than the film by far.