4 out of 4 stars
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A Police Action is a historical fiction novel by A. A. Freda. which discusses the story of 2 lovers, James Coppi and Samantha Powers. A chance encounter between the two leads to James discovering Sam's secret: She is already pregnant with the son of someone else. In this moment of need, James offers a helping hand to Sam, leading to a period of romance which James is ill-prepared to commit to. Against his impending deployment, how will James lay things delicately to Sam? Will Sam, a girl who is head over heels for James, agree? The answers are slowly revealed in the book, leading to a rather satisfying conclusion.
Throughout the novel, Freda is able to maintain the reader's excitement with a fast-paced story that doesn't contain any excess weight. This is, in fact, one of the strongest features of the novel. Past the first few pages, the story really picks up and I found myself swept along with it, enjoying every page of the ride. Yet, with all the excitement between James and Sam, Freda never neglects the "Police Action" of the title, a term revealed to be used by the government to deny the existence of war in Vietnam, calling it merely "a police action". James's stint in the army forms a significant portion of the book, much to my interest. Through his time in the military, we see that James isn't really the confident guy with all the answers, and sometimes he too wrongly predicts how certain events will go, such as with the plot to assassinate a superior toward the end of the story. Nonetheless, we are shown that he has the ability to quickly think on his feet and provide plausible explanations at every turn. This really fleshes out James's character by showing us his thought process and how he sees things differently from his comrades. This insightful look into the characters as well as the exciting story was without a doubt the most exciting part of the book.
Consistency within the novel is also a huge plus for Freda. At no time does Freda resort to plot convenient devices to resolve seemingly impossible scenarios in the story. Moreover, character consistency is also maintained throughout the book. Sam is shown to quickly keep true to her stance of being independent, obtaining and well-paying job and settling issues herself instead of resorting to James at every turn. She is also shown to be independent of her parents, having been able to move into Colorado and survive without needing aid from her parents. James is shown to be a hustler at the start of the story, which is kept true through various money-making schemes during his service and reversion to playing pool after being discharged.
Nonetheless, this book is not without it's faults. With James's story, although we are given a clear premise early in the story that he is well-liked by his superiors due to his above average abilities. However, in reading the book, I struggle to believe that he is capable of getting away with flaunting the rules time and again. Whilst benefit of the doubt can be given in view of the circumstances as described in the book, it does take away some of the believably of the story for me.
Overall, the fast-paced story coupled with well fleshed out characters certainly made A Police Action a very enjoyable novel for me. As an avid reader of non-fiction accounts of the Vietnam war myself, I can attest to the historical accuracy of the details presented in the book. If you're a fan of either the romance or war genre of books (or better yet, both!) you will certainly find this book to be an interesting read. Hence, I would give A Police Action 4 out of 4 stars.
A Police Action
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