The Bottom Line: One of the year’s best thrillers so far. A highly textured, must-read gripper that will appeal equally to fans of mysteries, military thrillers and police procedurals.
Vietnam, 1970. George Tanner, an American military police investigator based in Saigon, is near the end of his final tour of duty. While trying to convince his Vietnamese girlfriend to go with him when he leaves, he becomes obsessed with the death of a man the press has labeled an ‘unknown soldier.’
Told from Tanner’s point of view, author Jeff Wallace spares no detail in describing the wartime flavor of Southeast Asia. You can practically taste the humidity, feel the mosquito bites, and hear the occasional air conditioner struggling to keep the scorching heat at bay. And yet due to Wallace’s economical use of dialogue and deft pacing, the plot never feels bogged down by the grandiosity of the language.
The deeper Tanner wades into the investigation, the more precarious it becomes. Before long, he finds that he’s in far too deep, putting himself in mortal danger. At every turn, circumstances seem to compel him to stay in the country – or is Tanner himself willing it to happen? Soon, the prospect of leaving the country alive seems about as real as one of his recurring dreams.
Ex-soldier Wallace’s debut novel is a stunner, and not just for the intensity of the mystery he has created. More than just a great thriller, The Man Who Walked Out of the Jungle is a profound tribute to the people who go above and beyond the call of duty.