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Title: "A Police Action"

Author: A.A. Freda 

Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Co. 

The first half of "A Police Action" is a romantic tangle between two young misfits cast in a life not of their choosing.

One is 19-year-old Samantha Powers, tired of living under her preacher father's strict rules, who left her small Texas town to live on her own in Colorado Springs, Colo. Without any restraints, she gets drunk and consequently pregnant after her first and only sexual encounter.

James Coppi is a draftee in the U.S. Army with only 10 months left before his tour of duty is actually up. He and his buddies are in Colorado Springs for six months of briefing before going to Vietnam. Living in the fast lane, Coppi, a college dropout, is a hustler who can always recognize an opportunity to make money and to work the Army system to make life easier. I wonder if such a quick-thinking rascal could always land on his feet even when in the military.

He and Sam meet and hook up in a local bar. They have an immediate attraction for each other, which ends in a "no strings attached" affair. Coppi finds them a decent place to live, offering Sam advice and financial help. Both are headstrong and find it difficult to bow to the wishes of the other. With no commitment other than a promise to write, time is up and Coppi is deployed to Vietnam.

About the last half of this novel is about Coppi's time with his comrades in Vietnam, mid-term in the war that was never called a war by the United States government. Tell that to the men over there doing the fighting in what they saw as a lost cause. Their main goal is to get back home alive. I believe the war scenes are accurately portrayed, judging by what I learned from living through that troublesome era and watching Ken Burns' documentary on the Vietnam War on Prairie Public TV.

What I did not care for is that Freda told his story in present tense. For example, " ... he drops off his gear, he grabs his rifle, he reasons, she begins kissing, she scurries from her car" and so forth. It was tiring, and confusing at times especially when they recounted events that had already happened. The vocabulary is rather elementary and vulgar but one would expect that in this particular setting.

Freda served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam during the time period covered in "A Police Action." His 252-page novel did keep me interested, wondering what his characters were going to do next. It is available at Amazon and the Barnes and Noble bookstore.

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Virginia Luger, now retired in Bismarck, is a former school teacher, Episcopal deacon and business owner. She has been writing for various publications since the 1980s.