Author: J. E. Ballow
Publisher: Infinity Publishing (2008)
Binding: Paperback, 220 pages
Captain Jared Carposi and Special Agent Edward "Easy" Behr as the new Provost Marshall and CID Chief have inherited a mess at Camp Crocket, South Korea. To make matters worse the adjacent village, nicknamed "Tombstone", has a complete disdain for law and order and is rife with prostitution, assaults, and black marketing. Worse still the village seems to be haunted by an evil spirit. As the team strives to gain control of the village a young bar girl is murdered. Were the events an omen of her impending doom? Is she now stalking the village seeking vengeance? Or is it something else? Agent Behr is a very experienced agent and a rather wily character who uses every legal, and some say questionable, trick at his disposal to resolve the problem.
Goodbye, Yobo is a straightforward military crime novel featuring the exploits of Buck Ballow's CID Chief Warrant Officer Edward "Easy" Behr on assignment at the fictional Camp Crockett in South Korea. With the assistance and support of Provost Marshal Captain Jared Carposi, Behr meets a number of challenges in his new assignment, including restoring a semblance of law and order to the nearby village, called "Tombstone" by the troops at the camp. Through the course of his year assignment at Crockett, Behr reestablishes respect for the military police in both the troops and the villagers, breaks up a major black marketing ring, solves a murder, suicide and encounters some seemingly supernatural going on. In addition he endears himself to the local business girls, mama-sans and Korean military police and civil authorities, as well as the camp commander.
Ballow is ex-CID and his vast knowledge of the branch's activities, as well as the intricacies of operations in a foreign country add detail and breadth to the book. He carefully avoids that bane of all readers -- unexplained jargon decipherable only by insiders and takes the time to explain the background and meaning of the various plot elements, from how prisoners are handled to Korean shamans, to the reader. I rarely had to ask "now what exactly does that mean."
Behr is a larger than life CID man, but Ballow avoids the easy, and fatal, mistake of making him a caricature of a CID man. Ballow may be smarter and more confident than even the young Provost Marshal, but he is neither superhero nor a James Bond-like character with powers beyond those of mortal men -- he is simply intelligent, culturally aware, savvy and experienced. Behr is a believable "military cop" and readers will easily find themselves admiring him, accepting all of his character traits and all too human flaws.
Behr's approach to the problems, make that challenges, he faces is believable, ingenious and at times fun. I won't give away the answers but the juxtaposition of ghosts, criminals, prostitutes and law enforcement personnel is entertaining and a real delight
Goodbye, Yobo is a thoroughly enjoyable whose believable characters and exotic locales are painted with loving attention by a twenty year CID veteran and a worthy addition to the military crime genre. If you're looking for a fun crime book to read Goodbye, Yobo is a worthy choice.
Reviewed by: David Tschanz (2009)