26 December 2005
The author's second novel in a trilogy to be published by Ivy books, Night Work is the continuing saga of Jim Hollister, Long Range Patrol officer in Vietnam. Having reviewed Foley's first novel, Long Range Patrol, in a previous issue of BTL, I felt it was my duty to pass judgement on the author's second effort.
sees Hollister, now a captain, returning to Vietnam on his second tour, assigned to Juliet Company, a First Field Force long range patrol asset. Foley should be in familiar territory here as he served in that capacity with F Company (Long Range Patrol) 51st
(Airborne) Infantry, attached to First Field Force in Vietnam.
Foley's book is well written, full of energy and smacks of real tales of real people – a characteristic that permeates the better war novels. Night Work
does not lack realism or accuracy. The author has done his homework well.
As I began to read Night Work
, I was intrigued by the fact that Foley was attempting to tell his story from the viewpoint of a LRP operations officer, a role which in my experience possessed all the trappings of a non combat assignment. But Foley surprised me. During the course of the story, this young operations officer manages to actually go out on a mission or two, get himself shot down during a hot extraction of a long range patrol, and get dropped off by his C & C ship to capture a Viet Cong soldier – pretty heady stuff for an 0-3 in a LRP unit.
Hollister thrives under the command of a quiet, taciturn Major Sangean, Juliet Company's commanding officer, but bumps heads repeatedly with Major Fowler, the Field Force logistics officer, who seems to have it in for the LRPs and Hollister personally.
After Sangean rotates, the worst happens as Fowler assumes command of the company. The ticket punching career officer immediately begins to “set right” everything that he perceives is “wrong” with Juliet Company. The ensuing conflict and Hollister's remedy for the situation caps an already strong novel.Night Work
is a thoroughly enjoyable read. Unlike the biographical works of many of the Vietnam era LRP/Rangers, Night Work
has a plot. Foley offers the best of fiction with a taste of realism for good measure, and it works well in the finished product.
My only criticism is Foley's continual reference to the non-officers in the company as “the LRPs.” While not cast in the role of main characters – an oversight I'm sure – the individual team members given personalities and names would have enhanced an already great story. Foley's perspective, influenced by his own experience, was complimentary to LRPs as a class but not as individuals. So, Dennis, in your third novel, which I am foaming at the mouth to read, how about casting a few more of the “little people” as real characters?
You non-fiction purists can get off your pedestals for once and buy this one. Night Work
is as close to real as it gets without the blood, blame and bluster of combat. Written by a warrior, Night Work
is a warrior's story.
Buy Night Work
This article was originally published in Behind The Lines magazine. VietnamGear.com has reproduced this article with the kind permission of Gary Linderer.
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