A mysterious figure in a black rain poncho known as The Torch is dousing drunk GI’s with gasoline and setting them on fire. This person has been successfully eluding the MP’s and is a top priority for the men of the 716th. Also the Honda Honeys two beautiful women on a stolen motor scooter brazenly ride up alongside Stryker’s jeep and stabs his partner in the leg and steals his watch. Into this mix a young new rookie comes to Saigon searching for his twin brother who is accused of desertion. Instead he is arrested for the brother’s crimes and sentenced to a firing squad. Can Stryker save his man from the firing squad, take down the Honda Honeys and stop the Torch while keeping a lid on the various criminals and Cong snipers that threaten the city.
The fifth book in the series the author is definitely hitting his stride. The book has some very interesting and diverse threats. Yet he is able to tie up these what seem like separate events and link them all together. Plus you get the excitement of a vibrant city and its people. Another great book in this excellent series.
Sgt. Mark Stryker and the men of the 716th MP battalion have a lot on their hands in 1967 Saigon. They have to protect an Air France airliner carrying Communist peace negotiators from being blown up by VC opposed to any peace deal. There is also a drug ring run by army deserters that is peddling bad dope. An Air Force general who brings his men to Saigon to celebrate his birthday and they get a little too rowdy. A new rookie finds out his girlfriend is actually VC. Plus there is the usual snipers, cowboys and various lowlifes that the MPs must deal with to keep a lid on if Saigon is not to fall into anarchy.
This book is actually the first one that I ever read. It is appropriate that I read it over the recent Christmas/New Year’s holiday since that is when I first read it back in 1984. This book doesn’t have a storyline that stands out. Just sort of a collection of various stories. I did enjoy this book and it got my interest in the series. I thought it was a great introduction to the world of Stryker’s MPs.
It is interesting to note that this book had an epilogue with what happened to the major characters. Sort of like maybe Cain thought that this would be his last book. It would last another eight books. The MPs would go on to be law enforcement back in the World, commit suicide, killed in action and one would join the anti-Communist resistance in Cambodia. The Vietnamese policemen would disappear into reeducation camps after the Communist victory. And Stryker? Well he was still in Saigon. Which seems appropriate. He wouldn’t let a Communist takeover drive him out of the city he loved.
Someone has put a price on the head of a First Cavalry captain Louis Moast “The Ghost”. He is called The Ghost because he has a habit of making the soldiers under him into ghosts. Word out is that his own men have raised the $10,000 bounty. Sgt. Stryker assigns two new rookies to go undercover with the First Cavalry and find out who is responsible for the bounty. The new rookies leave the urban jungle for the real time. They soon find out that Captain Moast is a total space cadet. He volunteers his men for dangerous missions that result in high casualties all to advance his career. The undercover MPs begin to wonder that they might like to frag this guy themselves. They will have to survive Moast’s reckless missions if they are to find the assassins.
The third book in the series takes us to a more traditional Vietnam war book. Half the book takes place in the jungle fighting the VC and NVA. There still is plenty of police work in Saigon and the reveal of who put the bounty out on Moast was a complete surprise. A side story involved Nick Uhernik, a son of a diplomat who was born and raised in Saigon. He wanted to be an MP in Saigon and we follow his training at Ft. Gordon, Georgia. We get to see the training that is involved in becoming an MP. A very satisfying book in the series.
Dinky-Dau is Vietnamese for crazy. So the title translates as “Crazy Death”.
Sgt. Mark Stryker has reenlisted with the MP’s of the 716th Battalion in Saigon. While on a routine patrol with a rookie a call comes through of a sniper attack. Arriving they find the Decoy Squad pinned down by heavy fire from a group of VC. While going to the roof the VC are attacked by an overzealous helicopter pilot firing its rockets and causing a fire to the tenement. When the smoke clears a new MP just recently transferred to the 716th is missing. Soon after his wife comes to Saigon to find answers to his disappearance. She finds out he also had a Vietnamese wife. Soon the investigation leads to a KGB agent.
Meanwhile the MPs have to deal with the various other lowlifes that inhabit Saigon including a VC sapper attack on Tan Son Nhut airport, a panty pirate that steals women’s underwear and defecates on their beds and someone sabotaging Raunchy-Raul’s jeep.
The second book in the series establishes Stryker as a full member in the MPs. It starts to establish this series as one that has a mixture of action, police investigations and humor. The panty pirate is an officer that is a drag queen. An officer is found to be responsible for the various humorous sabotaging of Raunchy-Raul’s jeep. It seems back in Colorado Raul set up as a practical joke that the lieutenant was sleeping with the general’s wife and got him transferred to Vietnam. The main thing he seems angry about is that the general’s wife was real ugly and that ruined his reputation. Stuff like this sort of lightens up some of the more gruesome murders found in the book.
One thing that I though was a bit sad is a subplot with a seven year old Vietnamese girl. She finds out that her father was an MP and at the end he is reunited with him and her mother. They were going to get married when they were all gunned down and killed by the fleeing KGB agent at the end. I thought that was kind of a let down. Still the book was a solid entry in the series.
Code Zero is a radio term the MPs use to warn of imminent danger.
Sgt. Mark Stryker is getting burned out on being a Green Beret. When the VC chop off the arms of all the children in a village that recently received vaccinations he decides he had enough. When his enlistment is up he quits and heads back to Saigon were he once served with the Military Police. He is at heart a cop first and becomes a private investigator. There is a lot of things happening in 1967 Saigon that involve the 716 Battalion of Military Police that is responsible for Saigon.
The decoy squad an undercover unit that works the streets has its hands full. In addition to the various Cong and hooligans that prowl the streets a new threat is stalking the street. A former MP has deserted after his girlfriend is brutally raped and murdered as payback for an arrest he made. The MP hunts the group of black deserters involved with the black market and other criminal activities. Unfortunately the MP has gone completely bonkers and starts taking out any black man that he finds. Meanwhile a Saigon policeman Jon Toi is hunting a deranged hooker that is carving up her soldier clients in revenge for being raped.
Back when I was a kid before my Christmas break I stopped at the supermarket to pick up some books to read. Now at this time there were no new books from one of the many post-apocalypse series that was following. So I decided to go with some Vietnam books. I picked up two books Saigon Commandos #4 and Gunships #3.
Now Gunships was your typical action fluff. Enjoyable but nothing special stood out about it. Then there was Saigon Commandos. Now here was a surprise. I found a very fast paced and enjoyable story. You would think that being an MP is boring. You know guarding installations and directing traffic. But not in Vietnam. Cain crafts an exotic city full of beautiful women and nonstop excitement. He brings a vibrant city inhabited with colorful and dangerous characters.
Jonathan Cain is a veteran of the Military Police and served in Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. He clearly has a strong background in the subject matter and a deep love of Southeast Asia. The stories he writes are based on true stories that were discussed with his fellow MP’s at Mimi’s Bar in Saigon. Now he did jazz it up with some extra sex and violence at the editors request. This was a Zebra Men’s Adventure book so you had to satisfy the target audience. Yet if you want to find out about Saigon during this time then this book series is an excellent choice. I can see why this series has a cult following.
So I will end with the description of were the title comes from that is at the beginning of all the books in the series.
“Saigon Commandos” was a derogatory term invented by infantrymen in the field to refer to any soldier stationed in the “rear”. But some of the military policemen-fighting snipers, sappers, and other hostile hooligans across the Saigon underworld-affectionately adopted the title, proud to be lawmen battling crime in the toughest beat in the world.