cover image Double Fault

Double Fault

Jack Bickham / Author Tor Books $21.95 (351p) ISBN 978-0-312-8

A massacre in Vietnam 25 years ago sparks attempted revenge in former tennis champ Brad Smith's fifth gritty mystery (after Breakfast at Wimbledon ). Recovering at his Montana resort from a knee injury sustained during a celebrity match, Smith receives a visit from an army intelligence officer seeking information about Kevin Green, his college tennis teammate and Vietnam comrade who supposedly died while a POW, but who was recently photographed in the Denver airport. When Smith finds the corpse of David Wentworth, Green's wartime helicopter copilot, with one ear cut off (a mutilation practiced by some American soldiers in Vietnam), he realizes that the army officer was an impostor and sets out to find Green before anyone else does. Smith roams across L.A., Kansas, Oklahoma, Ohio and Colorado before uncovering the truth about a haunting event: a massacre at Quang Xi in 1968. His final confrontation with a delusional vet suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is brutal and sadistic. High-toned moralism mars some closing passages, but for the most part Bickham offers a straightforward tale revealing the grim consequences of deaths perpetrated in the name of loyalty and honor. ( July )