Play the Red Queen

Juris Jurjevics. Soho Crime, $27.95 (360p) ISBN 978-1-64129-137-8
In this outstanding mystery set in 1963 Saigon from the late Jurjevics (Red Flags), two agents for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division, sergeants Ellsworth Miser and Clovis Robeson, have the daunting task of stopping an assassin known as the Red Queen, who leaves a “playing card bearing a red female figure” at the scene of her crimes. Maj. James Furth, her third victim in less than two weeks, is shot through the heart at an outdoor cafe. The shooter, according to a witness, was an attractive Vietnamese woman of about 20 on a motorbike. One of the playing cards is found nearby. The woman’s murderous campaign opens a new front in the conflict, as Saigon has been a mostly safe city for Americans. Miser and Robeson’s boss, Captain Deckle, reveals that a Vietcong deserter has reported that the Red Queen has an additional objective beyond taking out seemingly random targets—the “liquidation of a major player.” Jurjevics, the publisher and cofounder of Soho Press, maintains a page-turning pace and captures the tense atmosphere of the time and place with evocative prose. This is a tour-de-force that will make fans of Martin Limón and James Benn sorry that there will be no more from this gifted writer, who died in 2018. Agent: Anne-Lise Spitzer, Phillip Spitzer Agency. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 02/07/2020
Release date: 02/11/2020
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
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