Title: The Three-Nine Line by David Freed
Cordell Logan Mystery Series Book Four
Publisher: The Permanent Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 272 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Author
More than forty years after their release from the notorious “Hanoi Hilton,” three American prisoners of war return to Vietnam to make peace with their most brutal former captor, a guard whom they’ve dubbed, “Mr. Wonderful.” The U.S. State Department hopes reconciliation will help cement a major trade agreement between Washington and the Vietnamese. But when Mr. Wonderful is found murdered, the three ex-POWs are accused of the crime and the multi-billion dollar deal threatens to unravel. Enter pilot, still-aspiring Buddhist, and former military assassin Cordell Logan.
Working with a newly formed covert intelligence unit that answers directly to the White House, Logan is dispatched to Hanoi to identify the real killer as the trade agreement threatens to implode. What he soon uncovers proves to be a vexing and increasingly dangerous mystery. Who really killed the guard and why? Unlocking the answers will test every ounce of Logan’s ingenuity and resolve, while risking his life as never before.
Like its three predecessors in the Cordell Logan mystery/thriller series Flat Spin, Fangs Out, andVoodoo Ridge, The Three-Nine Line is a classic, pulse-pounding page-turner. Legions of loyal readers and critics alike, from Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Library Journal to Noir Journal and theAssociated Press, have hailed the series for its taut writing, finely wrought characters, flashes of wry humor, and full throttle pacing. The Three-Nine Line may well be the best yet.
In The Three-Nine Line, David Freed’s fourth novel in the highly entertaining and always fascinating Cordell Logan Mystery series, past and present collide when “Mr. Wonderful”, a brutal guard at the Hanoi Hilton, is murdered after a reconciliation ceremony with three of his former POWs. Ex-fighter pilot and one-time covert government operator Cordell Logan travels to Vietnam to investigate the murder and help the Americans leave the country before news of the murder reaches the American press. With a US trade agreement with Vietnam hanging in the balance, Logan must outwit Truong Tan Sang, an overzealous investigator with the Ministry of Public Security, before the ex-POWs are convicted of the crime.
Cordell is still coming to terms with the tragic events that occurred six months earlier when his old friend and comrade in arms Buzz reaches out to him about the tense situation in Hanoi. Cordell is a little reluctant to become involved in the investigation, but when he learns his former philosophy professor, Steven Cohen, is one of the men under house arrest, he quickly agrees to help. Posing as psychologist Bob Barker, Logan travels to Vietnam where he meets with Cohen and the other ex-POW, Virgil Stoneburner, while at the same time he secretly investigates the murder. With very few resources to aid him on his search for answers, Logan and his interpreter, Nguyen Phu Dung are soon looking into “Mr. Wonderful’s” sordid dealings in hopes of discovering the identity of his killer.
Logan is still the same intelligent, sarcastic and somewhat reluctant investigator introduced in previous installments of the series. However he has been out of the covert ops game just long enough to be slightly off balance. He seems a bit distracted occasionally and although he gets results, he is sometimes a little reckless. Cordell is also on his own for much of the investigation and lacks some of the resources he needs to obtain necessary information.
As Dr. Barker, Logan has limited access to Cohen and Stoneburner, and they continue to deny any involvement in the murder. The third ex-POW Billy Hallady is out of Cordell’s reach since he returned to the US with his grandson, Sean, before Mr. Wonderful’s body was discovered. Is their early return as innocent as Hallady proclaims? Or is the reason a sign of their involvement in Mr. Wonderful’s death? Will Logan unmask the killer(s) before Cohen and Stoneburner become scapegoats for his murder?
The Three-Nine Line is a very clever and intriguing addition to the Cordell Logan Mystery series. David Freed has once again written an impossible to solve mystery that will keep readers guessing the perpetrator’s identity right up until the novel’s dramatic conclusion. The return of an old love interest will leave fans eagerly awaiting the next book in this delightful series. Highly recommended to old and new fans of the series.