Martin Limón Jade Lady Burning (1992)
I think, but I'm not 100% sure, that this was a recommendation in Julian Symon's interesting Bloody Murder: From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel. Soho Press has done crime fiction buffs a great service in publishing this and other hard to find titles such as Jan Willem de Wetering's 'Amsterdam Cops' series (highly recommended).
Jade Lady Burning is a brutal police procedural, with the police in this case being military police on duty with the Eighth United States Army in South Korea during in the Vietnam War (I had to think twice about that). George Sueño (the narrator) and his amoral partner Ernie Bascom investigate what should be the simple case of a brutally murdered good time girl, but they quickly discover there is far more than meets the eye to the case. Are fellow members of the US Army covering up for their own? How high in HQ does the corrupt racket go? I think I could easily use 'brutal' in every sentence describing this book - from the hard-boiled writing to the nasty plot to the conniving and corrupt characters to the almost unlovable heroes. Limón perfectly captures the (ahem) brutalising effect of war on the cashed-up occupiers and the captive civilian population who 'service' the huge army base. The author's passion for Korea comes across loud and clear.
This is a very good crime novel indeed.
If you liked this... I'm pleased to see that the next couple in the series (Slicky Boys; Buddha's Money; The Door to Bitterness; GI Bones) are available for Kindle. I read this as a tree book (thank you, urban dictionary!) but I'm LOVING my new Kindle. In places I was also reminded of the Vietnam parts of Charles McCarry's Tears of Autumn: wars that can't be won; women as objects; drugs; corruption at all levels.