It is a week after the sneak attack by the VC on the Tet holiday. The VC have been totally defeated but there is still plenty of mopping up to do. The VC have broken up into small groups. For them there is no going home and their mission has now become a suicide mission. The Third Field Hospital, The Embassador’s Quarters, The Continental Hotel and the Catholic Cathedral all have to be cleared of hardcore VC. Into the war zone Sgt. Mark Stryker’s sister is assigned to Saigon as an Army nurse. She is soon kidnapped by a desperate VC prisoner and dragged into the Saigon sewers. Now Stryker must race to find his sister while having to race around to all the hotspots.
The final in the Tet trilogy and the last in this series. It is fitting that it ends with the Tet Offensive probably the most famous engagement for the MPs during the Vietnam War. We also get to finally find out about who Stryker really is. His mother died in a drunk driving accident and he and his sister were raised by a Korean stepmother. His father later died from exposure to radiation from nuclear tests while in the army. His only sister an single mother tragically lost her son when he ran out into the street and hit by a school bus. There was a lot of tragedy in his life and nice to finally get some background on his personal story.
My final thoughts on the series. I really enjoyed it and see why it has become a cult classic. I was surprised how much I enjoyed reading this series. It was actually more then just the run of the mill Vietnam action series. I felt like I was also learning what it was like in Saigon during the height of the war. The Tet trilogy was a fitting end to the series. If you like action or historical stories then this is a great series to read.
The initial assault by Communist forces during Tet have failed. The US embassy is now firmly in American hands. Still the whole city is an active war zone. Sgt. Stryker and the MPs have no trouble finding VC in the tracer filled streets of Saigon. They still have thousands of hard core VC and NVA to defeat. The Phuto racetrack at the edge of the city has been taken over and made the HQ for the VC. Also they have to relieve the 60 MPs at the Bachelor Officer Quarters-3 who are holding out against 700 NVA regulars from a reinforced battalion. In addition they find time to rescue policeman Jon Toi from being captive by a female gang and must prove the innocence of Sgt. Ron ‘The Brick’ Brickman who is accused of fragging his commanding officer.
The second in the Tet trilogy is a real action packed read. The chapters start at the beginning with actual radio transmissions that took place during the battle. You get a real feel for the confusion of what was going on. Some of the reports are somewhat absurd as one that reported US servicemen were being held captive by the VC and forced to watch propaganda films. In reality it was some off duty special forces watching Cool Hand Luke. Cain captures the excitement and confusion of the battle. He really did a good job of researching it. A very informative book about Saigon during the Tet offensive.
January 31,1968 the year of the Monkey. It is Tet the Vietnamese new year. The most important holiday for the Vietnamese both north and south. There is a truce and South Vietnamese military and police units are at 20%. This it the date that North Vietnam decided to launch a general offensive. They hoped to spark a general uprising among the population and every single city and major military base was assaulted. Sgt. Mark Stryker and the MP’s of the 716th find themselves suddenly fighting off 35 battalions of VC and NVA. His MPs are now fighting as regular infantry and are the only thing standing in the way of a total Communist victory in Saigon.
The book starts with listing the names of the 27 MPs that gave their lives in the Battle of Saigon. The average age was 20. The MPs were the only American forces stationed around the capital and were therefore the ones that bore the brunt of the offensive. South Vietnamese forces were not only at 20% strength but were reluctant to join in because they thought that a coup was taking place and didn’t want to end up on the losing side. Cain gives a detailed and accurate account of the street battles that took place. Including the battle at the US embassy were the MPs and Marines contained the sapper team in the parking lot. Indeed the battle was a total disaster for the VC. They were unable to take a single objective and the population did not rise up as they hoped for.
This is the first of a trilogy in the Tet offensive and I find it an excellent source to get the feel of what it was like in Saigon.
In the last book the pedophile Broadcheck decapitated the wife of MP Timothy Bryant. He decided to take justice into his own hands and shoot Broadcheck while he was in custody. Later he escaped custody and became one of the deserters that live in the shadows of Saigon. Only Bryant has decided not the just sit on his hands. He starts a one man war against those he feels are Communist sympathizers. A pro-Hanoi politician, radio personalities, activists against the current regime and journalists are all his targets. Meanwhile Sgt. Stryker is framed for the murder of a former girlfriend. Now his buddies must prove his innocence and stop the campaign of the rogue MP before their former friend and colleague is himself taken out.
Back in 1988 Roger Corman’s Concorde pictures gained the film rights to the series. This is the book that they chose to adopt to a movie. I can see why since it has a lot of elements for an action film. Car chases, fire fights and a murder mystery. I vaguely remember renting it twenty years back and believe I enjoyed it but I am fuzzy on the details. I hope they someday release it on DVD. It does sound like an interesting film.
So here is the trailer.
Warrant Officer Robert Quinn is a detective in the Criminal Investigation Division(CID)branch of the 716th MP battalion stationed in Saigon. He has made a home in Saigon and married one of the local women. Together they have a son and daughter. Then one day his world is turned upside down. Boardcheck a child molester that Quinn put away escapes from Leavenworth. Boardcheck wants revenge and kidnaps his wife and children. Soon body parts of the children are left around the city wrapped up as a present. Can the MPs of the 716th find and stop Boardcheck?
The eighth book in the series is the first that actually has a central character in Robert Quinn. In fact the whole story focuses almost exclusively on the character which is its weakness. It sort of drags on with his depression over the kidnapping and him contemplating suicide. The criminal escapes from Leavenworth(didn’t know Leavenworth was so easy to escape from) was used in the last book. It felt like an overused and unoriginal idea. I guess Cain was trying something new but I think it failed. This was my least favorite in the series and just dragged on with a lot of grim and depressing writing.
Thankfully the next books were some of the best in the series.
Five year ago Sgt. Mark Stryker was responsible for putting an Army intelligence agent in Leavenworth for the rape and murder of innocent Vietnamese peasants. Now he has escaped and found his way to Saigon to get revenge on Stryker. There is also a lot of other threats for Stryker and the MP’s of the 716th have to deal with. Someone is murdering prostitutes by tying them up and driving a buzz saw through their heads. A crazy female Vietnamese cab driver is killing MP’s that get in her cab if accompanied by a Vietnamese prostitute. A MP is conspiring with the Vietnamese wife of his partner to have her husband killed for the insurance money. And a white man is roaming the city playing superhero. Dressed in a red cape, combat boots, a gas mask and nothing else he takes out criminals. Nicknamed Captain Condom because he ties a condom on the men that he subdues.
Into this a movie company comes to Saigon. Starring a blonde bimbo named Kiwi Kolana it is an action flick and Stryker’s MPs are assigned security duty. Things aren’t all that legit with this production. A staged bank robbery turns into the real thing and the producer is filming a snuff film on the side.
The seventh is another enjoyable book in the series. It combines gritty police procedures, comic relief with Captain Condom and plenty of good old shoot’em up action. Once again all the subplots are somehow related and come together at the end.
A payroll convoy on its way to Bien Hoa is ambushed by heavily armed mercenaries killing 35 MPs. The mercenaries are lead by a corrupt Vietnamese police captain named Trinh Tri. Tri is using a corrupt American major in finance to obtain convoy information and plans to hit the next one. Stryker meanwhile breaks up with his jealous Vietnamese girlfriend and she puts a temple curse on him. Being in Vietnam Stryker has developed a respect for the superstitious beliefs of the locals and wonders if the convoy ambush is because of the curse. It doesn’t help that at the funeral for the slain MPs a VC attack shoots off the face of the army chaplain and a mortar attack kills several more of his men. A chase that leads into the jungle on the outskirts of Saigon almost results in him getting mauled by a Bengal tiger.
Stryker does have a job to do and leads the next convoy on a final confrontation with Tri’s mercenaries and a corrupt ARVN colonel.
The sixth book is a real action packed story. A lot of firefights. Several life and death situations for Stryker to escape. The book shows the rampant corruption that existed in the South Vietnamese government and is the main opponent for the men of the 716th MP Battalion. A real fast paced and enjoyable story.