cover image Red Flags

Red Flags

Juris Jurjevics. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-547-56451-7

Jurjevics's intriguing if at times diffuse novel of the Vietnam War centers on Capt. Erik Rider, a military investigator dispatched to a remote base called Cheo Reo to disrupt the funding of North Vietnamese troops through opium production. What he discovers is a web of systemic corruption involving local politicians and South Vietnamese military leaders, all of whom are operating with the tacit approval of U.S. military commanders. Jurjevics (The Trudeau Vector), himself a Vietnam veteran, is best when describing the details of daily life during war, particularly those involving the abuse of the huge native tribal population of Montagnards. Too often, though, the narrative spins off into side episodes that are hard for the reader to connect with Rider's investigation. A framing device used to bracket the plot%E2%80%94a daughter seeking out Rider decades after the war's end for information about her father, who was Rider's commanding officer%E2%80%94ends in a predictable resolution after a promising setup. (Sept.)