I’m a big fan of Gary Reilly’s Asphalt Warrior series which I’ve mentioned on this blog many times. The Denver cab driver, Murph, is my hero–a business world dropout and wanna-be author who drives a cab and has two rules for living. One….he wants to make a minimum amount of money each day to sustain his bare bones lifestyle. Two….he vows never to get involved in the lives of his passengers. None of that goes according to plan, of course, but Murph keeps trying and occasionally dusts off one of his many manuscripts with the intention of actually doing something with it.
I love these books, and am very happy to know there are more to be published in the series even though author Gary Reilly is no longer alive to hear the applause of his many fans.
Because of the Asphalt Warrior series, I was very excited to learn about the publication of a different kind of novel produced by Gary when he was alive. Based on some of Reilly’s experiences in the Army during the Vietnam War, this trilogy begins with The Enlisted Men’s Club and Private Palmer’s holding pattern at The Presidio army base in San Francisco. He’s waiting for orders to go overseas, most likely to Vietnam.
The pacing is slow and deliberate. At first I felt I was reading too much detail, too much day to day routine, too much moving of Private Palmer from here to there and back again. I was learning too little about what Private Palmer was thinking.
It didn’t take very long, however, to realize what Reilly was doing as he put together these chapters. My tension level began to rise as I read more and more. The waiting was almost unbearable. I wanted a drink every time Private Palmer headed for a bar. I began to understand why I couldn’t access Private Palmer’s thoughts.
He didn’t want to think. He made sure his life was filled with the small routines and thought-killing activities that he needed to carry on from day to day.
To think would be to fear. To think would mean facing the inevitable. To think would bring on an anxiety so intense an ordinary man might not be able to survive the waiting.
And in truth, some didn’t.
The Enlisted Men’s Club is disturbing in the way psychological suspense is. It’s scary. I’m not going to put any spoilers here. I want you to read the novel for yourself. And I will read the second book in the trilogy as soon as it’s published.
Thanks to Mark Stevens, one of Gary Reilly’s friends who have made the publication of these novels possible.
I purchased The Enlisted Men’s Club and will give away this gently-read copy to one U.S. or Canada resident who leaves a comment on this post by midnight Mountain Time Saturday, August 16th.