WAR DOGS BY NIK-UHERNIK

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Copyright 1984.

1963. Lt. Justin Ross and his elite clandestine team are ambushed. They were going to assassinate a cousin of President Diem who is a known Communist sympathizer. The team was betrayed and now all his men are dead. Only the timely intervention of South Vietnamese police save him from certain death. Now Ross has to rebuild the War Dogs. So he gathers a new bunch of individuals he can use. One is a former Korean war vet who was working as a mercenary in Rhodesia. He was caught planning a bank robbery and deported back to the states. Because he faked his death and his wife collected $250,000 in life insurance he has to join or be exposed. A Pueblo, Colorado police officer who beats an arrest subject to death. A seventeen year old from a rich family that ran off and joined the Army. He kills his drill instructor who bullied a friend to suicide. Then a helicopter pilot arrested for smuggling drugs. Finally a Guatemalan prostitute working in New York City. She kills a pimp and the Bronx Basher a serial killer that was targeting prostitutes.

This group is trained to be an elite squad of assassins that clandestinely eliminate enemies of America. Their first assignment is back in Vietnam. They first get the chance to take out an arms dealer who is selling to the VC in Hue. Then they infiltrate the presidential palace to kill the cousin. Only the coup starts against President Diem and they find out their real mission is to assassinate President Diem and his brother Nhu who is head of the secret police. They follow the two through secret underground passages to the cathedral in Cholon where they shoot both of them.

So my tradition to read a Vietnam war book for the holidays I started this new series. The first book is an extra length one at over 400 pages long. This was a common practice for Zebra when starting a new series for the first book to be extra long to establish the characters and world. The book definitely does this for the first half, except for the prologue doesn’t even take place in Vietnam. Instead it skips all over the world for Rhodesia, New York City, Pueblo, Florida Everglades, and Panama. We get backstories to all the team members and why they are in the War Dogs. The ending actually involved real world events. President Diem and his brother did escape to the Cholon cathedral using underground passages. Yet history says the two were captured and killed by an ARVN captain in the back of an M-113. A bit of revisionist history.

The first book was an enjoyable read. The characters were fleshed out and feel real. Nik-Uhernik is the pen name for Nicolas Cain who wrote the excellent Saigon Commandos. So the first review of the new year. I plan to do many more with a mix of new books I’ve read and older ones that I plan to reread. Happy New Year.

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