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Jade Lady Burning (Sergeants Sueño and Bascom #1)
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Jade Lady Burning (Sergeants Sueño and Bascom #1)

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  229 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Almost twenty years after the end of the Korean War, the U.S. Military is still present throughout South Korea, and tensions run high. Koreans look for any opportunity to hate the soldiers who drink at their bars and carouse with their women. When Pak Ok-Suk, a young Korean woman, is found brutally murdered in a torched apartment in the Itaewon red-light district of Seoul, ...more
Paperback, 223 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by Soho Crime (first published 1992)
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Jul 04, 2014 AC marked it as i-get-the-picture
Shelves: crime-mystery
This appears, from reading 15% or so that I stuck it out, to be a serviceable, if pedestrian, airplane/train ride procedural of two US Army criminal investigators who work (and play) in Seoul's red light disctrict, the 'ville'. Would have read more of it if I'd already read all of the things I haven't yet already read. (No rating - but looks like it would likely be a 3)
This book was terrific and I can now say that I am a fan of the author. Although I have no experience in South Korea, I felt as though I had been transported to the country. The author paints a vivid picture of how U.S. operations impact the lives of South Korean people - postiviely and negatively. A great crime novel and a quick read - it is hard to put down!
Rob Kitchin
The interesting thing about Jade Lady Burning is Limon populates the story with unlikeable people doing unlikeable things in unlikeable places and yet has produced a very likeable tale. Sueno and Bascom are rough around the edges military police officers who drink too much, party with prostitutes in Itaewon, the red-light district of Seoul, and turn a blind-eye to some black market activity. The tale works well for three reasons. First, Limon tells the story at face value: he doesn’t romanticise ...more
I... enjoyed reading Jade Lady Burning, by Martin Limon. Yep, I do believe I did. It took me quite some time to read, and there were many things going on that I had to take time to understand. But it was suspenseful and interesting.

This book is about this murder case in Korea. Two American criminal investigators, George and Ernie are assigned this case. There's this little tied up, burnt up, beat up young prostitute. They're supposed to find out what happened. She had a boyfriend, who she was g
Soho Press
I love Martin Limón's detective series--featuring an US Army sergeant detective, and set in South Korea in the early 1970s--for two reasons (besides the great writing and entertaining mystery plots):

1) The time and place Martin has chosen as a setting are fascinating: 20 years after the end of the Korean War, the US is still very much interfering with Korean politics and government. In a chilly valley of the Cold War, Sergeant George Sueño is caught in a pivotal but overlooked moment in history:
Good review of the latest book in the series led me to this, the first book in the series. I could never connect the dots in the plot nor figure out the time period, probably 70's or 80's. I've walked the streets of Itaewon both in summer and winter and I enjoyed the descriptions of the bargirls and life in the ville. However, the plot seemed unrealistic with CID agents going rogue and it was never clear as to who did what to whom and why. I'll still read the other books in the series as it fill ...more
PROTAGONISTS: George Sueno and Ernie Gascom
SETTING: South Korea
SERIES: #1 of 10
WHY: Sergeants George Sueño and Ernie Bascom, Military Police for the U.S. 8th Army located in Seoul, South Korea, are assigned to investigate the death of local prostitute Pak Ok-Suk, whose body was found in her hut which had been burned to the ground. Relations are always tense between the Americans and Koreans; the situation is somewhat alleviated when her US boyfriend is accused. Sueno and Bascom soon
Timothy Hallinan
Martin Limon, with whom I visited bookstores in Phoenix, Houston, and Austin earlier in July, is one of my favorite writers, author of a prodigious series set in Korea over a stretch of several decades, beginning in JADE LADY BURNING, the first book in the series, during the period of the Vietnam War. His reluctant Eighth Army investigators, the sensitive and intelligent George Sueno and the intemperate and often bullheaded Ernie Bascom, explore the murder of a young Korean woman, presumably by ...more
George Suenos and Ernie Bascom, investigators for the 8th U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Division, are assigned to a joint investigation with the Korean National Police when a young prostitute is brutally murdered and her apartment torched.

Suspects are as prevalent as the scent of kimchi on the frigid air and it isn’t long before the two troops are clashing with both the military brass and the KNP as clues they uncover paint a different scenario than desired by officials.

Between bouts of dri
This was an interesting story - the characters are two military CID members who work in Korea. I really like how Limon makes the culture and characters understandable and interesting without having to describe everything. The story itself was okay but it wandered a bit at times. Sadly, the whodunit is kind of resolved with icky, wicked people being "taken care" of outside the law and without giving too much away, the ending is somewhat of a surprise and I'm not quite sure I like how it was resol ...more
Mary Helene
Noir it is, and not a better setting for it: US army bases in Korea circa early 70s. This mystery has a lot going for it: piquant characters, humor and heart, but it dragged sometimes. There were dangling facts (who took those incriminating photos? Kimiko?) but it gets four stars from me for the way it reverses sleaze - those we expect to be sleazy are complex and those we expect to uphold civic values - are corrupt. The corrupt, on the other hand, have evolved a different system altogether.
While the action and plot occasionally wandered a bit slowly as Ernie and George wandered from bar to bar, the overall mystery was eventually solved satisfactorily. The setting, however, was the most interesting part, Seoul, South Korea in the 1970s and the interaction between the American military and the local Korean population.
Limon knows his turf, the world of American soldiers stationed in Korea in the late 1960s and early 1970s. HE really brings it to life in this noir mystery, the first of an ongoing series.
So, in the end, I liked this book...a lot. I like police procedurals and this one was made even better because I had a sense for the location. I lived in Korea for 8 years and Limón gives the reader an accurate portrait of the dysfunctional relationship between everyday Korean life and the culture of the American military.

Why 3 stars? The writing is clumsy, especially at the beginning and the pace was slow. In the end, however, the author seemed to find firmer footing and I could not put the boo
I enjoyed the collection of Bascom and Sueno short stories, but was thinking that a full-length novel would allow more plot development. I was right- as you follow the investigation, there were developments and twists that did not seem to be present in the shorter format.

I was surprised at the ending; I am still thinking it over.
Melissa Reinhart
Good book about the army, with a nice murder mystery included. Copious amounts of drinking and prostitutes, but clearly a norm at the time. It was a good story that kept me reading. The main characters were fairly well developed but the murder was definitely a mystery that never fully gets explained in the end. There are some gaps in the story, a few missing pieces that would have made more sense. The three girls getting attacked or warned at the end, Sueno shooting the guy he thinks is responsi ...more
Peter Smith
When we finished that shot, Ernie ordered two more, and another beer for me and another beer for himself, them set about busily pouring and slurping, hunched over the bar like a craftsman at his workbench.
"Building a drunk, eh?" I said.
Raw and intriguing, Jade Lady Burning is a murder mystery told through the voice of military detective George Sueno. George and his partner, Ernie Bascom, are assigned to the brutal murder and burning of a Korean prostitute. Believing that the easy suspect is not the correct one, George and Ernie push ahead and find themselves in the middle of a dangerous cover-up.

Set in South Korea during the 1970's, Limon's gritty writing is as much about the culture of legalized prostitution and the military
Sarah Beth
This is a Goodreads first reads giveaway review.
Set in what looks to be 1970s-era Seoul, Limon's debut is a highly enjoyable procedural featuring two well-drawn US army CID officers. Normally confined to busting up black market operations, the two must battle army bureaucracy while trying to solve the murder of one of the hundreds of prostitutes who live off US GIs. The book is excellent at exploring the relationship between the army and the local service economy that it supports, and Limon's s
Bert Edens
Admittedly, I picked up this book simply because it was about Korea, and obvious interest area for me if you look through my bookshelves. However, I've never been much for military fiction, so I wasn't really sure what to expect.

I must say I was pleasantly surprised. Limón did a good job of moving the story along at the right pace with good character development. Knowing the author spent some time in Korea also helps me understand why so many details of the culture and history are spot-on.

Jesus Flores
Jade lady
A woman is found burned to death in postwar Korea, and we get to see how George Sueño and Ernie Bascom go around solving the murder case even when both the Korean Police and US Military don’t seem too interested to, once they got a most likely suspect on custody. I really liked the backstory on Kimiko. And the author has a nice way of keeping you reading and describing the interactions between us military and Korean society. Final part goes a bit overboard for a while but still gets to
This first novel has had pretty solid reviews. The setting and story are interesting. The protagonist is a U.S. Army CID investigator in South Korea. A prostitute is murdered and he is on the case. Limon was in the army, stationed in Korea for 10 years and married a Korean woman, so it seems he is giving us a realistic insight into a part of the world we may never see ourselves. The drinking and whoring of our soldiers in this boring occupation is a bit of a downer, but probably reflects reality ...more
Sharon Speevak
This book has all the promise of an interesting location (Korea) and unique occupation of its two key players - U.S. military investigators. However, I found both the players lacked dimension. Yet another story where the detectives drink a lot, screw a lot and have witty, short sentence comebacks neatly tucked in their back pockets for all occasions. The plot was also not engaging and, at times, hard to follow. The writing style itself was far from evocative. Given the locale and historic settin ...more
This is a really average book. I kind of enjoyed some of the depiction of Itaewon, which I figure is something like Khao San Road, but it is not incredibly depicted. The story only kind of makes sense and the leads are no Sam Spades or Philip Marlowes, although it seems they are supposed to be at least part those guys. Sometimes the writing is pretty good. i read a book a long time ago called Bangkok 8 that was kind of similar but better on all fronts.
The author's debut novel is an excellent example of writing to fit the characters, a couple of American GI's in post-Korean war Seoul. The reader feels as though the men are speaking directly to her. The mystery is perhaps not handled very deftly, but the characters are fully realized, and I enjoyed the unusual(for mysteries) background. Read it if you need a break from spy thrillers or British psychological mysteries.
I liked this book which is the first in a series of the adventures of a pair of US military police detectives in Seoul, Korea, about 20 years after the Korean War. A young prostitute is found murdered in her apartment. After the murder the killer sets fire to the corpse. The background has special meaning to me since I was in Korea about 10 years earlier. Fortunately, I never had any dealings with the military police.
This was sent to me via a publishing rep, thinking it's the kind of book I would enjoy.
It was! Very good first mystery about a couple of Army CID officers trying to solve a murder in post-war early 1970s Korea. Reminded me of Burdett's Bangkok series. This 20th anniversary edition will be on sale this summer and I will be looking for more of Mr. Limon's work.
For September Historical Mystery Book Group discussion

Loved this book. Really enjoyed the two main characters, especially as they were so different, yet seemed to grow into good friends. The discussion group went over time on this one. So many fascinating things to talk about. Pretty much a thumbs up all around. There were 14-15 people there for the talk.
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. At first I put off reading it because of the subject, but after starting it, I was hooked. This is kind of an historic mystery and foreign novel mixed in one. I appreciated the detailed descriptions of military life and relations in Korea. I don't think it is a time I would like to live through.
Carrie Terrell
Twenty years after the Korean war, where many of our GI men find comfort and solice in the arms of a beautiful native woman, it seems the more stunning you are, the more apt you are to become something other than a "lady of the evening", isn't necessarily in your best interest. Where does the government draw the line...or do they??
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Martin Limon retired from U.S. military service after 20 years in the Army, including a total of ten years in Korea. He and his wife live in Seattle. He is the author of Jade Lady Burning, which was a New York Times Notable Book, Slicky Boys and Buddha's Money.
More about Martin Limón...

Other Books in the Series

Sergeants Sueño and Bascom (9 books)
  • Slicky Boys (Sergeants Sueño and Bascom #2)
  • Buddha's Money (Sergeants Sueño and Bascom #3)
  • Door to Bitterness (Sergeants Sueño and Bascom #4)
  • Wandering Ghost (Sergeants Sueño and Bascom #5)
  • G.I. Bones (Sergeants Sueño and Bascom #6)
  • Mr. Kill (Sergeants Sueño and Bascom, #7)
  • The Joy Brigade (Sergeants Sueño and Bascom #8)
  • The Iron Sickle
Slicky Boys (Sergeants Sueño and Bascom #2) Mr. Kill (Sergeants Sueño and Bascom, #7) G.I. Bones (Sergeants Sueño and Bascom #6) Wandering Ghost (Sergeants Sueño and Bascom #5) Buddha's Money (Sergeants Sueño and Bascom #3)

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