A couple weeks ago I finished reading Sapphire Pavilion. It’s a really fast-paced, gripping story and I’m delighted that I was asked to review it on Ascroft, eh?.
This is what the publisher says about Sapphire Pavilion: “Steve Stilwell’s former Navy JAG Corps buddy Ric Stokes has been jailed for possession of heroin in Vietnam. He was found in the same room with his traveling companion Ryan Eversall, dead of an overdose and in the company of a prostitute. Steve knows his friend is a straight arrow. Was he set up? If so, for what reason? Steve travels to Ho Chi Minh City in search of the truth.
In no time Steve is targeted by the people who framed his friend. A beautiful young American businesswoman insinuates her way into the case. Can she really help, or is she just a dangerous distraction? Ric and Ryan came to Vietnam in search of an Air Force transport plane that disappeared in 1968. The pilot was Ryan’s father. Before the heroin bust, they had located the wreckage. Ryan’s notebook, which Steve manages to obtain, spells out the exact location. Ryan’s widow has given Steve’s associate Casey another piece of valuable evidence, a file labeled “Sapphire Pavilion.” Someone is willing to go to any lengths to steal both the notebook and the file.
From Virginia and Texas to DC and Vietnam, powerful, all-seeing forces with unlimited resources are determined to bury the truth about Sapphire Pavilion. But they have grossly underestimated Steve Stilwell and his associate Casey, a former Army pilot who lost her leg in a helo accident. And the ability to inspire loyalty wherever you go can come in handy when danger lurks behind every corner.”
I really enjoyed this story and was engrossed in it from the first page. The intricate, fascinating plot deftly uses ‘what if’ to look back at a mission that might have happened during the Vietnam War era and convincingly creates the story from this imaginary incident. There’s great use of believable coincidence involving a character employed in the Foreign Affairs office to tie some ends together, allowing the story to continue to its conclusion without bureaucracy derailing the momentum. I was also intrigued by one thread of the story that is wrapped up near the end of the book in a way that the main character, Steve Stilwell, is not aware of. The reader knows that it is resolved but the main character does not.
I really liked the main characters in this story and look forward to reading future books in the series. I also intend to go back and read the first book, The Siegel Dispositions, as I enjoyed this book so much. Each of the trio of characters involved in the investigation is distinctive and is someone the reader can empathise with. Steve Stilwell is a hardworking lawyer who must find a way to balance his career and his family life. His new legal associate, Casey, is an independent, likeable woman with an unusual background. And even though Stilwell’s secretary, Margaret, takes a backseat most of the time, the character is a notable presence in the law office and the reader has a sense of her personality.
The settings are very vivid and I felt the heat and chaos in Ho Chi Minh City, and soaked up the bureaucratic atmosphere of Washington, D.C. and the small town aura of Texas and Virginia. As well as the physical settings in this story, there is also a less tangible one: the military environment. The camaraderie, as well as the work and life ethos of the US military world, is well portrayed and gives the reader an insight into what this way of life is like.
As I said earlier, this fast-paced mystery and thriller gripped me from the beginning. I enjoyed every moment of it and look forward to reading more from this author. I recommend it to readers who enjoy mysteries and thrillers, as well as anyone who enjoys a good story.
Readers can learn more about the author of this novel, David E. Grogan, by visiting his website, Facebook and Goodreads pages, as well as following him on Twitter. Sapphire Pavilion is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
About David E. Grogan: David E. Grogan was born in Rome, New York, and was raised in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating from the College of William & Mary in Virginia with a B.B.A. in Accounting, he began working for the accounting firm Arthur Andersen & Co., in Houston, Texas, as a Certified Public Accountant. He left Arthur Andersen in 1984 to attend the University of Virginia School of Law in Charlottesville, Virginia, graduating in 1987. He earned his Masters in International Law from The George Washington University Law School and is a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Grogan served on active duty in the United States Navy for over 26 years as a Navy Judge Advocate. He is now retired, but during the course of his Navy career, he prosecuted and defended court-martial cases, travelled to capitals around the world, lived abroad in Japan, Cuba and Bahrain, and deployed to the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf onboard the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. His experiences abroad and during the course of his career influence every aspect of his writing. Sapphire Pavilion, his second novel, follows his debut novel, The Siegel Dispositions. Grogan’s current home is in Savoy, Illinois, where he lives with his wife of 33 years and their dog, Marley. He has three children.