Up Country

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February 06, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST

Twice as long as it needs to be, Up Country, Nelson DeMille’s 700-plus page sequel to ”The General’s Daughter” sends ex?Army investigator Paul Brenner (played by John Travolta in the 1999 film) to Vietnam on the trail of a 30-year-old murder. The case turns out to be a humdinger, but before you even find out what it’s about, you must endure countless Nam flashbacks and travelogue-ish detours. A Vietnam veteran himself, DeMille offers illuminating commentary on how the country has changed (Ho Chi Minh City is now ablaze with neon ads for Coke and Sony, raising the question of whether the communists really won the war), but his observations about combat can be as subtle as a hand grenade (”In war, as in life, the good ones die young”). One funny inside joke: When asked if he can dance, Brenner boasts, ”Like John Travolta.”

Up Country

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Up Country

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