From the publisher (a succinct plot summary, without spoilers]:
“A standalone thriller from the acclaimed author of the Inspector Troy series, Sweet Sunday is set during the tumultuous American summer of 1969. It is the summer of Woodstock and the moon landing, and the summer when unassuming PI Turner Raines is forced to investigate his best friend’s death. Raines is in his thirties, but he’s already a has-been - - among the things he has been are a broken civil rights worker, a law-school dropout, and a tenth-rate journalist. But as a private eye, he’s found his niche. The Vietnam War is ripping the country to pieces, and if your kid dodges the draft, hooks up with a hippie commune, or makes a dash for Canada, Raines in the man to find him. That turbulent May, as Normal Mailer runs for mayor of New York City, Raines leaves the city, chasing a draft-dodging punk all the way to Toronto. But by the time he gets back, his oldest friend, a reporter for the Village Voice, is dead, and Raines’ life has changed forever. He finds himself blasted back to the Texas of his childhood, confronted anew with his divided family, and blown into the path of people who know about secret goings-on in Vietnam, stories they may now be willing to tell.”
This was a time – an era, I guess – through which I lived, and though it seems very long ago, the feelings and emotions of that period, which ran very high, came back to my mind quit clearly, along with the racial unrest before the end of segregation. I remember well the references made here, such as the “military advisors” (as opposed to “soldiers”) sent there by the US Government, “Never trust anyone over thirty,” chants of “Hell no, we won’t go,” and young men publicly [and privately] burning their draft cards. The author makes the old cliché “War is Hell” come to life, and not as a cliché.
The physical descriptions are wonderful: “Jerome, AZ - - a town that seemed to be made of matchwood and perched on a cliffside to spit in the face of gravity . . . the red and purple streaks that tore across the mountainside above Sedona - strata like the plot of a novel . . . the congealed story of the earth’s crust writ large on the face of Arizona.” And his description of the Statue of Liberty as seen from the Promenade in downtown Brooklyn is absolutely gorgeous.
The investigation into the death of Raines’ friend, Mel, described as “a loudmouth, smart-ass, irritating Jewish runt of a man who never hurt anybody in his entire life,” takes him to the men who’d survived and lived to tell the tale of having fought in ‘Nam, and what a tale it is. I must admit that there were a couple of times when I had to stop reading and just take a break for a short while. The tale told in this novel is, as well, fascinating, beautifully written if at times harrowing, and it is recommended....Continua