Slow Walk in a Sad Rain

John P. McAfee, Author Warner Books $18.95 (239p) ISBN 978-0-446-51642-6
In this grimly sardonic but strained and only episodically effective first novel about the Vietnam War by a decorated 'Nam veteran, an unnamed American Army captain narrates the story of an infantry unit based in a reconnaissance post near the Laotion border. Although he is nominally in command, the outfit is in effect led by a brutal sergeant called ``Shotgun,'' who serves as an all-purpose scout-sapper-killer. While McAfee invests heavily in irony, his approach could not be less subtle. He writes in a terse, telegraphic series of sentences and one-sentence paragraphs that are obviously intended to drive home any gruesome jokes or conclusions readers may have missed. Shotgun emerges as a cartoon figure in a savage story; the key enlisted men in the outfit, ``Quiet Voice'' and Spec. 7 Thompson, are puppets in his hands. The novel's key event is the arrival of Col. Basshorn, who orders the small unit on a mission into Laos, where the soldiers encounter Vietcong (although rarely), CIA operatives and drug smugglers as well as blood flukes and other repulsive creatures. McAfee furnishes some vivid description of the Mekong River and its tributaries, and his expository information about armaments is often interesting. Unfortunately, the story never emerges from the screen of nicknames that objectify the chief characters and the black humor that constitutes the book's chief tone. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1993
Release date: 02/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-446-36500-0
Hardcover - 244 pages - 978-1-57090-177-5
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-57090-174-4
Paperback - 182 pages - 978-1-4995-5027-6
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