GUM'S STORY

Rick Turnbull, Author . Harbor House $24.95 (246p) ISBN 978-1-891799-22-8

A Vietnam veteran is out to avenge the death of a little boy in Turnbull's ham-handed debut. Phillip Turner's long-suppressed memory of a horrifying experience he had during the war is resurrected by his chance discovery of a news article about the villainous Colonel Chu, who had brutally murdered an innocent boy nicknamed Gum. (Gum and Turner's friendship was forged when Turner gave the boy chewing gum and Gum, in turn, warned him away from diseased prostitutes.) Turner was an airman assigned to cargo planes ferrying supplies from the mainland and returning with caskets supposedly carrying the remains of American soldiers. He is now living in Georgia and happily married to a nurse he met in Vietnam, but the sudden occurrence of nightmares and trancelike recollections sets him off to seek justice for Gum's killer. Since Colonel Chu is now a wealthy man with connections in the CIA, Turner's efforts with legal institutions are thwarted, and he must take matters into his own hands. There are few surprises here and no points of originality. Anyone who cannot see immediately where the plot is going has probably been stupefied by Turnbull's prose, which dotes on banal dialogue and gratuitous sound effects (indeed, the book's first words are "CRACK! BOOM!"). Cloying, almost saccharine in places, the novel lacks believability, complexity and consistency of point of view. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/04/2002
Release date: 11/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
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