Limón, Martin 1948-
Limón, Martin 1948-
Freelance writer, c. 1992—. Military service: U.S. Army, career officer, served in South Korea for ten years.
"GEORGE SUEÑO AND ERNIE BASCOM" MYSTERY NOVEL SERIES
Jade Lady Burning, Soho (New York, NY), 1992.
Slicky Boys, Bantam (New York, NY), 1997.
Buddha's Money, Bantam (New York, NY), 1998.
The Door to Bitterness, Soho Press (New York, NY), 2005.
The Wandering Ghost: A Novel, Soho Crime (New York, NY), 2007.
Military veteran and author Martin Limón introduced his two sleuths, military police officers George Sueño and Ernie Bascom, to readers in his 1992 debut mystery novel, Jade Lady Burning, the first book in the "George Sueño and Ernie Bascom" mystery novel series. George and Ernie—who hail from Los Angeles, California, and Detroit, Michigan, respectively—are stationed in Seoul, South Korea, during the latter days of the Vietnam War. In Jade Lady Burning, they are ordered to investigate the death of Pak Ok-suk, a prostitute who was romantically involved with a soldier at the time of her murder. Another character involved in the plot is Kimiko, an older prostitute trying to earn a living in competition with much younger women in her profession. In addition to this case, George and Ernie uncover corruption on the part of some of their superiors who want the criminal investigation resolved quickly.
A Publishers Weekly critic gave Jade Lady Burning a mixed review but praised the compassion with which Limón portrayed Kimiko. The same reviewer found the sleuths' morality questionable but intriguing, and also saw great promise in Ernie's character, "whose innocent-looking puss conceals a classic crime fiction psychotic." Newgate Callendar, a contributor to the New York Times Book Review, applauded the relative novelty of military police as mystery protagonists and called Jade Lady Burning "a remarkable first novel." Callendar also praised Limón's "compact style," "accurate ear for dialogue," and "combination of tough-guy talk and sensitivity."
Slicky Boys, published in 1997, is the second book in the "George Sueño and Ernie Bascom" mystery novel series. Still in Korea, the duo is faced with the murder of a British soldier serving in an honor guard for the United Nations. The soldier's death occurs right after George and Ernie deliver a message to him from a young South Korean woman. In the process of searching for answers, the pair must venture into dangerous sections of Seoul, where they encounter the city's underworld of criminals—the "slicky boys" of the novel's title. George and Ernie must also contend with the bureaucratic procedures placed in the way of their investigation by their own military government. Tom Nolan, in a review of Slicky Boys for the Wall Street Journal Western Edition, gave the book a positive review, asserting that it possesses both the "grim routine of a modern police procedural" and "the cliff-hanging action of a thrilling old movie serial." Several reviewers of Limón's work emphasized that the author, like his protagonists, served the U.S. Army in South Korea. Many have credited this experience for the realistic settings readers encounter in his books.
Buddha's Money is the third book in the "George Sueño and Ernie Bascom" mystery novel series. Published in 1998, the book begins with the duo in search of a jade head that bears a map to the lost tomb of Genghis Khan. The fourth book in the series, The Door to Bitterness, was published in 2005. In the novel, George wakes up bruised and cut in an alley without his gun and badge. Both items are used shortly thereafter in a casino robbery by two men who look very similar to George and his partner, Ernie. George and Ernie set out to find the culprits before the situation becomes worse. "Fans of the … series, who have been waiting eagerly for a new novel, can relax. It was well worth the wait," praised a Booklist critic. A Kirkus Reviews critic called the book a "bitter brew fueled by acrid insights on the dehumanizing force of the lasting American presence in Korea."
In 2007's The Wandering Ghost: A Novel, the fifth book in the "George Sueño and Ernie Bascom" mystery novel series, George and Ernie are given orders to investigate the disappearance of Corporal Jill Matthewson, who left her base three weeks prior and has not been seen or heard from since. In their search, George and Ernie also find a young G.I. who was apparently murdered and whose death was not reported. The pair attempts to figure out if the two cases are related and what happened to both army officers. "There's plenty of action and the mystery is well conceived, yet this is also a dark book and at times troubling to read," maintained a Mysterious Reviews critic. "Despite some repetition [The Wandering Ghost] combines a vivid recreation of recent history with admirable local color," observed a critic for Kirkus Reviews. "Fans of crime and military fiction may find this an eye-opener," noted a Booklist reviewer.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 1992, Elliott Swanson, review of Jade Lady Burning, p. 127; April 15, 1997, David Pitt, review of Slicky Boys, p. 1410; September 1, 2005, David Pitt, review of The Door to Bitterness, p. 70; September 1, 2007, Thomas Gaughan, review of The Wandering Ghost: A Novel, p. 65.
Entertainment Weekly, May 22, 1998, "The Browser," p. 66.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 1992, review of Jade Lady Burning, p. 1091; July 1, 2005, review of The Door to Bitterness, p. 711; August 15, 2007, review of The Wandering Ghost.
Library Journal, September 1, 1992, review of Jade Lady Burning, p. 219; March 15, 1993, review of Jade Lady Burning, p. 50; April 1, 1997, review of Slicky Boys, p. 128.
New York Times Book Review, November 15, 1992, Newgate Callendar, review of Jade Lady Burning, p. 21; May 25, 1997, review of Slicky Boys, p. 23.
Publishers Weekly, August 17, 1992, review of Jade Lady Burning, p. 490; March 24, 1997, review of Slicky Boys, p. 59; April 6, 1998, review of Buddha's Money, p. 60; September 3, 2007, review of The Wandering Ghost, p. 42.
Wall Street Journal Western Edition, June 9, 1997, Tom Nolan, review of Slicky Boys, p. A17.
Mysterious Reviews,http://www.mysteriousreviews.com/ (August 5, 2008), review of The Wandering Ghost.