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Jade Lady Burning

(Sergeants Sueño and Bascom #1)

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  458 ratings  ·  83 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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3.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  458 ratings  ·  83 reviews

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Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jade Lady Burning is the first book in Martin Limón's George Sueno and Ernie Bascom mystery series. Both are Army Sgts working in CID in South Korea. They are assigned to investigate the murder of a Korean prostitute as the suspect is an Army Private. It turns out that the Private had filed papers to be married with Pak Ok-Suk. The story is set 20 years after the Korean War.
The story is told in the first person by Sueno. You get an interesting picture of the CID set up and of the darker aspects
Rob Kitchin
Oct 26, 2013 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
Sep 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
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 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 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)
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Over the years, while browsing for books to read, the name of MARTIN LIMON kept popping up but I paid no attention to the recommendations. I now regret those decisions.

I attended the Tucson Festival of Books in March 2019 where I had a chance to hear Mr. Limon speak during a session of a mystery writers’ panel. I discovered that he lived in the Seattle, WA area not far from where I live. I decided to try his books (there are over 14).

JADE LADY BURNING is the first book in the Sueno and Bascom s
I started with Book #5 and I really liked the writing and plotting more than this first in the series. For me, the ending seemed choppy and disjointed. I guess military justice is nothing like civilian. Going keep going with the series; these are great characters.
Soho Press
Aug 15, 2011 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:
Timothy Hallinan
Jul 19, 2012 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
Jan 14, 2015 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 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
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.
Jeffrey Miller
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book when it first came out and loved it!

I remember some of the events in the story that happened in 1992 which inspired the author to write this chilling and evocative tale of the U.S. military and South Korea, specifically, the "camp towns" where the GIS congregate. In this gritty and visceral novel, Limon delves deep into the seamy underbelly of the US-ROK alliance.

Limon is one of my favorite authors and I highly recommend this novel.

Jeffrey Miller, Bureau 39
Nov 26, 2013 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
Rachel N.
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
Jul 01, 2016 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
Dec 07, 2012 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
Mary Helene
Feb 26, 2012 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.
Mar 25, 2012 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.
Justin Gaynor
Jul 25, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a quite-readable procedural, but I'm a little astonished by all the rave reviews it's received. This book was written a few decades back, and maybe it's just that time has passed it by, but I find it odd that several of the reviews refer to its sensitive portrait of downtrodden Korean women when, in fact, every Korean woman in the book was some sort of sex worker, and little attention was paid to them outside the use to which they could be put.

It was perhaps a little more interesting th
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 service in Korea brings raw authenticity to every ...more
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Martin Limon's Sueno and Bascom books are all pretty solid. I started in the middle of the series and read them not in order. I like these books because they're a pretty good character study and I love the depiction of 1970's South Korea. Having said that, none of these books really stand out. They're all pretty solid police procedurals except that the police are US 8th Army CID officers. The whole series reads like a TV series binge. I finish one and go on to the next.

I finally get the first b
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a military detective novel which takes place in Korea. A hideous murder takes place and Sueno and Bascom seek to find the murderer of a young Korean "working" girl. There are blind alleys and military red tape that interfere with the investigation. Key figures in the plot add intrigue as to how they are involved in the whole mess. The murderer is finally captured but not without fears that he will be left off the hook. Interesting view of the Korean and American interactions.
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was drawn to this because of its setting in Seoul. It is well written and has a good plot. Set in the 70s in and around the 8th army headquarters in Seoul, I found the book sad because of the grim outlook for Korean women without means during that era-----after years of war and before koreas economic boom. The tale is very much involved in the "working girl" class of the era and I suppose I was troubled by what seemed a lack of empathy for their plight.
Apr 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries
A very different kind of mystery than I normally read. I learned a lot about South Korea under American military rule. Very little of it good.
Well-written, not a pat, tied-up-with-a-bow kind of mystery.
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good police procedural in a different place. I'm no expert in 8th Army in ROK, but author has a great feel for the location. The compelling story and plot drive a good mystery.
Nov 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, read-2017
It was okay. Not sure if I'm going to try the second one or not. I did like the ending--it was realistic.
Mary Ahlgren
Jul 13, 2019 rated it liked it
A glimpse into post war South Korea that made me ashamed of the, likely not rare, behavior of our armed forces.
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
Are all men in the military this disgusting?
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries, series
I really like this detective series set in Korea. I’m looking forward to continuing the series.
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Play Book Tag: Jade Lady Burning by Marting Limon 3 stars 1 8 Jul 24, 2016 08:45AM  

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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.

Other books in the series

Sergeants Sueño and Bascom (1 - 10 of 14 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)