cover image The Iron Sickle

The Iron Sickle

Martin Limón. Soho Crime, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-61695-391-1

Limón brilliantly combines a procedural with a harrowing portrayal of the wounds of war in his ninth novel featuring U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division agents George Sueño and Ernie Bascom (after 2012’s The Joy Brigade). Sueño and Bascom, who are serving in South Korea in the 1970s, have developed a reputation for pursuing the truth without regard for the consequences. They must once again balance integrity with professional (and personal) survival in the case of a Korean man, who entered the Seoul compound that houses the office responsible for claims for reparations, compensation, and damages against units attached to United States Forces Korea and slit the throat of its civilian head, C. Winston Barretsford, with a sickle. Sueño’s fluency in Korean gives him an advantage in tracking the killer, even as his superiors try to divert the pair with other duties. The murderer, who left a bizarre totem, including wire and a dead rat, strikes again, upping the pressure on the partners to solve the case. The secret at the heart of the crimes is truly chilling, and Limón’s nuanced characters enhance a fast-paced, carefully crafted plot. Agent: Jill Marsal, Marsal Lyons Literary. (Aug.)