cover image Gloom of Night

Gloom of Night

Sean McGrady. Pocket Books, $4.99 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-671-74268-3

When a Baltimore postal employee discovers a missing bag of mail containing letters written in 1967 by American soldiers in Saigon, Postal Inspector Eamon Wearie finds himself confronting the aftermath of a Vietnam war atrocity. The killer is still on the loose and his next target is the president of the United States. A blonde beauty named Justine Ford propels the aptly named Wearie into the case. Justine's father had written her late mother three letters on the day before his ``accidental'' death, and one of them is particularly ominous: asking her to pursue ``the truth'' should anything happen to him and saying he wished he never had heard about the fate of a ``little Vietnamese girl'' in a place called Phuoc Linh. Wearie and his tough-talking sidekick Bunko Ryan hear bitter meditations about the Vietnam war before tracking a legless villain to an idyllic hideaway. The plot frequently meanders and some of the language is gratuitously coarse, but McGrady's ( Dead Letters ) prose scores when, for example, he describes life's losers in a casino: ``These women with their pink and blue hair. Dangling cigarettes from their mouths like a forgotten addiction.'' (Nov.)