cover image Broken Jewel

Broken Jewel

David L. Robbins, . . Simon & Schuster, $25 (414pp) ISBN 978-1-4165-9058-3

Robbins's ninth novel, the best WWII Pacific campaign novel in a long time, tells the dramatic story of the 1945 rescue of 2,100 American and allied prisoners from the Los Baños camp near Manila. Middle-aged gambler Remy Tuck and his teenage son, Talbot, have been civilian prisoners since the Philippines fell to the Japanese in 1942. Packed into the miserable Los Baños, where the Japanese starve, beat, abuse and murder the prisoners, Remy and Talbot use their wits and courage to survive. Across the camp, Carmen is a young Filipina woman forced to be a sex slave for Japanese soldiers. She and Talbot forge a relationship via long-distance glances through barbed wire. Once the Americans invade the Philippines and plan a daring mission to rescue the prisoners from certain death, Remy, Talbot and Carmen risk their lives to aid the paratroopers coming to their rescue, though bad luck, homicidal guards and stray bullets nearly do them in. This is a terrific story of the triumph of the human spirit, loaded with suspense, historical accuracy and fast-paced action. (Nov.)