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Book review: Up Country

by Nelson DeMille

Warner Brooks, Inc., 2002



In 1968, a U.S. Army lieutenant is murdered in Vietnam. He is not killed in action, nor by friendly fire, but is murdered by an Army captain, identity unknown. Years later, the army’s Criminal Investigation Division decides to investigate. Why now?




Sent into the maelstrom of contemporary Vietnam is Paul Brenner, who we met in DeMille’s “The General’s Daughter.” Retired and reluctant to rejoin the CID, he is persuaded to return by his delusive former boss, Karl Hellmann. Paul’s mission: find the only witness, a North Vietnamese.

Thus begins his journey from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) to Hanoi via towns familiar to many Vietnam veterans: Nha Trang, Da Nang, Quang Tri and Thanh Hoa. “Up Country” has an autobiographical slant, since Lt. DeMille served in Vietnam as an infantry platoon leader with the First Cavalry Division.

Paul and his would-be companion, the beautiful but mysterious Susan Weber, pursue their dangerous journey through the remote wilderness of up-country Vietnam, in spite of persecution by the rebarbative North Vietnamese Col. Mang.

Besides being the usual rip-roaring DeMille novel, “Up Country” is a geographical delight. It is a main selection of Book-of-the-Month and Doubleday Book clubs, and has already been tapped for a film.

– Joan Agar

Nevada City


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