Spooks: They Strike from Beyond and Leave No Trace
Author: James P. Slusser Sr.
Publisher: Leatherneck Publishing (2008)
Binding: Perfect Paperback, 368 pages
When Mary Ellen Winslow received her Master s degree in Nursing at Loyola of Chicago she never dreamed she d be using it in a helicopter over the jungles of Vietnam. But when her husband, a Korean War fighter ace, 16 years her senior, flew his plane into the side of a mountain rather than answer his Country's summons to return to service, and took one of his girlfriends with him, she somehow felt the only way to erase the shame and anger she felt was to serve in his place. This single-mindedness of purpose made Dusty , in her superiors opinions, the best field evacuation Nurse in Vietnam. It never seemed to matter to her how hot the LZ (landing zone) might be where she would have to go to pick up wounded soldiers or marines. They didn't realize that, as far as she was concerned, her life ended on that mountain when Jack slammed their Beechcraft into it. That was also the reason she showed absolutely no interest in the many young pilots, doctors, and other males that tried to attract her attention around the 125th Surgical Hospital at Da Nang; until, that is, Lieutenant Commander James Cooper came along. They say opposites attract. It must be true. Jim Cooper was the total antithesis of everything Dusty believed in. Her sole purpose for being in Vietnam was to save as many lives as she could. Jim Cooper was a Naval Intelligence Black Ops Spook whose sole purpose was to collect information about the enemy, and to do whatever he could to make as many Viet Cong and North Vietnamese die in the process as he possibly could. And if he wasn't t in Vietnam, he was in Europe, tracking down deserters from our own military with orders to retrieve or neutralize . He was a stone-cold killer and the more she tried to hate him the harder she fell in love with him. When he proposed and she accepted, the Military Hierarchy decided that it was not in the best interest of the war effort for them to marry and leave the military, so a Command conspiracy was formed that was designed to separate them forever. It almost succeeded. Spooks takes the reader through the horror of torn bodies on the battlefield to the intrigue of tracking defectors and spies through the streets of East Berlin. It clearly shows that all of the heroes of Vietnam weren't t big, tough guys with shaved heads, but a lot of them were little-bitty things with ponytails. But the main thing Spooks shows the reader is what it was really like for two people who met and fell in love in Hell.
Falling in Love in Hell!
Author James P. Slusser, Sr. takes the reader on a journey through the cold war of Europe, the hot war in the jungles around Vietnam, and a very personal war that eventually becomes a relationship! In his book called "Spooks," we get a glimpse of a life that few people can understand and even fewer have even heard about. The story is riveting as it draws you into the hearts and minds of the men and women who survived in that surreal hell that was Vietnam of the 1960s.
It is a rare combination to find a character driven story with actual feelings and emotion and yet, still deliver plenty of action. This book states that it is a fictional story but it also notes that it is based on some actual events. The way the story is presented it is hard to determine which may be factual and what may be the author's creative imagination. The author does a great job of blurring the line between truth and fiction. The reader is left wondering if perhaps, most of the book is reality based.
This is a love story between two very opposite and unlikely soul mates--an Army nurse named "Dusty" and a Naval Intelligence Black Ops "Spook" Lieutenant Commander James Cooper. She is hell bent on saving lives and he is a stone-cold killer. She is in Nam trying to deal with the death of her unfaithful husband while in search for her own soul. Cooper is in Nam to kill and gather information to make life a living hell for the VC and the NVA. Yet, they are pulled together and fall in love.
The intrigue of the operations in Europe lends another level of interest to the story line. Cooper is sent to track down US military deserters with orders to "retrieve or neutralize" them. Like most readers, I wondered about that concept and, if in fact, something like this ever happened. My inside sources tell me that this is far from fiction--but the author cannot either confirm or deny this. The old saying "If I tell you, then I would have to kill you" might apply here. In any case, the way it is written leaves one believing that everything is possible.
The author uses great phrasing and just enough of a dialog to make the plot move effortlessly along. This book is chuck full of solid energy. Readers of action military novels will embrace this book but it will also appeal to those who enjoy reading books that deal with the deeper emotional impact of war.
If you were in Nam you will be able to relate to this book no matter what you did there during that war. For those who never served there, it will paint a mental and emotional picture of what it was like for some of those who did serve there. The author presents a very real and descriptive and factual accounting of actions and people. Totally believable story!
I loved this book and personally recommend it.
Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2008)