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Jade Lady Burning (Sergeants Sueño and Bascom #1)

3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  354 Ratings  ·  65 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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(showing 1-30)
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Sep 02, 2011 Kathryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
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!
Jun 03, 2010 Natalie rated it really liked it
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
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)
Soho Press
Aug 15, 2011 Soho Press rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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:
Rob Kitchin
Oct 26, 2013 Rob Kitchin rated it really liked it
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
Jan 14, 2015 Maddy rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-reads
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
Dec 01, 2009 Chris rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery-rok
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
Nov 26, 2013 J.R. rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
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
Timothy Hallinan
Jul 19, 2012 Timothy Hallinan rated it really liked it
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 Sueno and his partner Ernie Bacom are CID officers working for the 8th army division in South Korea. They are assigned the case of a Korean prostitute who was brutally murdered, possibly by her GI boyfriend. Their investigation continues into the steamier side of South Korea. The investigators spend a lot of time drinking and having sex. I found the glimpse into South Korean culture to be interesting. The last 40 pages of so loses a lot of narrative connectivity, events start randomly hap ...more
Dec 07, 2012 Shannon rated it liked it
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
Jul 01, 2016 Mary rated it liked it
I was not sure about this book. It started out with a very nasty murder of a Korean young girl. When I started to read it, I almost put it down, and forgot about it, but I was wondering why the author would start the book like that would it get better or would it get worse?

Well it really did not get that much better. There were other murders and the two CID officers were onto the people who were doing the murders, but the Koreans were covering up everything and in the end the officers were separ
Mary Helene
Feb 26, 2012 Mary Helene rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
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.
Mar 25, 2012 Nick rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
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.
Chuck Barksdale
Jul 03, 2016 Chuck Barksdale rated it really liked it
“They found her at zero four hundred this morning,” the first sergeant said. “The body was badly burned but the neighbors are certain that it’s the young girl by the name of Pak Ok-suk who lived in that hooch.”
The first sergeant sipped his milky brown coffee, grimaced, and placed the porcelain mug in the center of his immaculate desk. Down the long hallway an ancient radiator whistled and clanged while the snow outside swirled in a howling wind from Manchuria.
Ernie Bascom fidgeted in his chair
Elaine Tomasso
Jul 27, 2016 Elaine Tomasso rated it really liked it
I would like to thank Netgalley and Soho Crime for a review copy of Jade Lady Burning, the first in a series of novels set in 1970s Korea featuring CID sergeants Sueno and Bascom.

Sueno and Bascom are called to investigate when a Korean "business" girl is found tortured and burned to death in her home. Normally this is a job for the Korean Police but rumours of a GI boyfriend get the army involved. When the boyfriend is arrested Sueno in particular is not convinced and they continue to investiga
Tom Johnson
Aug 08, 2016 Tom Johnson rated it really liked it
Sueno & Bascom #1: “Jade Lady Burning” by Martin Limon. Army CID agents, Sgt. George Sueno and Sgt. Ernie Bascom work out of 8th Army Headquarters in Seoul, South Korea. When a young prostitute is found murdered, her body sexually brutalized, and the room set fire, the Korean National Police want an American GI blamed, though they seem to know who the killer really is. The American system wants to point to a young soldier, also. But CID agent Sgt. Sueno doesn’t like the smell, and thinks an ...more
Philip Bailey
Jun 20, 2016 Philip Bailey rated it it was amazing
Much different from many military stories I have read. Uplifting in some ways but yet casting a look at the side of military life seldom seen and even more so the lives of the people around them. The Korean conflict is not one much written about to my knowledge, while this is not as much about the conflict is rather a story of the aftermath and the populous affected by it. The means to sustain life is sometimes taken for granted by many, especially those whose lives are filled with an abundance ...more
Whisky Kilo
Jul 22, 2015 Whisky Kilo rated it liked it
I really liked this book, and I would recommend it to anyone who has spent time in country. I often found myself daydreaming about my own adventures in Korea while I was reading this story. I did 3 tours for a total of 7 years in Korea and I really enjoyed the backdrop of the story. The Hamilton Hotel, Moyer Rec Center, the clubs, bars, the "hill", and other locations were really easy to relate to as I've been to each many times. I feel sorry for the young troops who are stationed there now as t ...more
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
Aug 18, 2011 Jeannette rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
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
Two and one half stars rounded down. Sergeants Sueno and Bascom are CID officers at the US 8th Army Headquarters in 1970s Seoul assigned to investigate the brutal murder of a young prostitute known to associate with military personnel. Unfortunately the investigation does not lead where their superiors or the local civilian authorities would like. The plot and investigation were interesting enough but I never warmed to narrator Sueno and Bascom was barely developed as a character. Maybe it's tru ...more
Bert Edens
Sep 15, 2011 Bert Edens rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: korea-fiction
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.

Christopher Williams
May 01, 2016 Christopher Williams rated it really liked it
I like this series which is set in South Korea in the 1970's. This is, I think, the first and I have only read one other but it is well plotted and the two main characters-Bascom and Sueno- are excellent. You learn a lot about Korea too which is not a country I had any particular understanding about before.
Won't give too much away by explaining the key points of the story but it unfolds well to a really convincing conclusion. I can certainly recommend this.
Note may be out of print as had troubl
Jan 20, 2014 Darrin rated it liked it
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
Sarah Beth
Aug 31, 2011 Sarah Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jesus Flores
Aug 13, 2014 Jesus Flores rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: detectives
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
Apr 07, 2010 Jrobertus rated it liked it
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
Jan 23, 2012 Sharon Speevak rated it liked it
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
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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 (1 - 10 of 12 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   (Sergeants Sueño and Bascom, #9)
  • The Ville Rat	(Sergeants Sueño and Bascom #10)
  • Ping-Pong Heart (Sergeants Sueño and Bascom #11)

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