Oh mama, I got dem PTSD Vietnam War St. Louis blues again...
When we first meet former Green Beret ELVIN SUGGS in his debut, The Wrong Side of Memphis (2009), he's working as a St. Louis private investigator, trying to come to terms with a busted marriage, a divorce that may leave him broke and bitter memories of Vietnam.
But he's not the only one. The grisly murder which kicks off this book seems to have its roots in that long ago conflict, and more than a few of its characters are also haunted by it. Hell, almost everyone seems to have some connection to it.
In the sequel, St. Louis Hustle (2011), Elvin has started up the Grapevine Detective Agency with Di Redding, a nurse who served in Vietnam and the widow of his best friend, and another vet, Cobra Glynes.
But that shouldn't come as a total surprise. Applewhite has dubbed the books the "'Nam Noir" series.
A decidedly working class vibe, including run-down apartment buildings and less than glamorous motels, seem to figure prominently, and heavy attention is paid to characterization and local colour. This, plus a frank but sympathetic treatment of her characters, particularly for those with emotional and philosophical ties to the Vietnam era, make Applewhite a novelist to watch.
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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