Monday, March 8, 2010

Final Answers, by Greg Dinallo

Book 4 of My Old Man's Challenge

This is an older book, which my dad probably picked up at a used book store, but I liked the story and I got through it in a day.

Cal Morgan, a Vietnam veteran and successful businessman, travels to Washington D.C. with his wife Nancy to testify to Congress about Social Security planning. Basically, he's in the business of predicting when people will die. During a break, he and his wife visit the Vietnam Memorial where the names of those who died, or were otherwise lost, during the Vietnam war were listed. Cal is shocked when he sees his own name on the wall. Hating the thought that someone else was mistaken for him, Cal tries to find out who the other soldier could have been and how his remains were mistakenly identified.

What starts as an effort to put an unknown soldier's name on a wall, ends up being a quest for revenge when Nancy is killed in an automobile accident. Determining that the perpetrators were really trying to kill him, Cal begins to track down a mysterious Captain Sullivan, who warned him to give up the investigation of the missing soldier. The story crosses the country coast to coast, to the Hawaiian islands and then across an ocean to Thailand and Laos.

The plot lines tie up at the end, but the solution isn't simple, clean, or just. No one is brought to justice, although the remains of some G.I.s are brought home.

Parents should be aware that the book has profanity, drug use, violence, and a brief sexual moment (though between a husband and wife). Discussion could include the difficulties that Vietnam veterans experienced coming home, complexities and problems inherent in U.S. foreign policy, and the pervasiveness of drug cartels. Hopefully an older teen would come away with more compassion for the families of those who serve, especially those whose loved ones never come home.

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