Thirteen years after the end of the Indochina Wars, former warring factions Vietnam and the USA are inching towards rapprochement and the restoration of diplomatic relations. Progress is threatened when unconfirmed reports reach the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong that two, ex-U.S. servicemen, still in Vietnam after the war, may be trafficking in young women and drugs. Anxious to pre-empt any embarrassing incident that could disrupt or derail reconciliation talks, the U.S. State Department authorises an urgent but discreet investigation – devoid of CIA participation – to preserve America’s integrity.
In the spring of 1988, Asia-savvy businessmen Yu Lee, an ethnic Chinese born in Cholon, Saigon, and John ‘Mac’ Mackenzie, a Canadian national, are contracted by the U.S. Department of State to investigate the reports, working covertly on behalf of the consulate in Hong Kong. Both men have strong ties with the Americans engendering a great deal of mutual trust over the years.
By coincidence, a former American pilot who served with the USAF in wartime Vietnam approaches the same consulate for help to find Linh, now sixteen, the bui-doi (mixed race) daughter he left behind when he was posted back to the United States. For years he has suffered pangs of conscience for having deserted her. Now he wants to welcome Linh into his American family and offer her an education. The search for Linh, taken on by Yu Lee in the first instance then in conjunction with Mac as a cover assignment, takes a sinister turn when she is found but then abducted in broad daylight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Subsequent investigations by Yu Lee and Mac lead them to a school near Da Nang.
Upon receiving confirmation from Yu Lee and Mac that Americans are trafficking in young women and narcotics, with the collusion of Vietnam officials, the U.S. Department of State redoubles efforts to remove any obstacles that could prevent the restoration of diplomatic relations. After years of low-key mediation by some European nations, reconciliation talks are scheduled to take place in the early part of 1989 a timeframe agreed by both Vietnam and the United States.
What begins as a locate-and-report investigation soon becomes a combined rescue and extraction operation in the South China Sea to the east of Da Nang. It turns into a vicious life-and-death mission fraught with increasing complications and unforeseen danger. Support from the United States’ Navy is deemed essential and duly authorised.
Everything rests on Yu Lee and Mac devising a successful escape from Da Nang without attracting undue attention. The stakes are high; time is of the essence and, for the government of the United States of America, failure is not an option.
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