Cover image for White tiger
White tiger
Dymmoch, Michael Allen.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, [2005]

Physical Description:
VIII, 311 pages ; 22 cm
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John Thinnes, a detective on the Chicago police force, and Jack Caleb, a well-known psychiatrist, were friends---unlikely friends, maybe, with very different lives, but men who liked and respected each other. And they had one significant experience in common: Both had been "in country" in Vietnam during the war. Their "labels" were different---Thinnes had been in the military police, Caleb a medic, a conscientious objector who chose to fight with his medical equipment and his ability as a doctor as his weapons, whether his patients were wounded on the field of battle or on the crowded, dangerous streets of Saigon. Arriving home, both men would have liked to forget the horrors of that war but could not banish them from their memory. They had left Vietnam, but Vietnam would never leave them.

In the years since the war ended, Thinnes married and fathered a son, Caleb prospered with his psychiatric practice and found a gay lover. Later, a series of murders and rapes brought the police officer and the psychiatrist together in an oddly matched friendship, each contributing his special knowledge to try to solve crimes that were hard to unravel.

But memories remain---ugly memories of maiming and killing on both sides, not only of soldiers but of innocent Vietnamese farmers and their families, of drug dealers and the city's poor. And now, on a morning shortly into the new millennium, Jack Caleb is listening to the radio and hears of the shooting death of a Vietnamese immigrant woman in Chicago's "Little Saigon," and a flashback leaves him trembling.

Thinnes's reaction to the murder is of a different kind. He had been assigned to the murder case, but when his lieutenant learns that Thinnes had known the dead woman in Saigon, had even attended her marriage to his now-dead buddy, he takes him off the case, leaving Thinnes's partner to use her outstanding talents as a detective under the officer who takes John Thinnes's place.

This, however, does not stop Thinnes from doggedly continuing the search for the woman's killer. Word on the street in Little Saigon is that the "White Tiger" is now in Chicago. "White Tiger" is the only known name for a mysterious and savage drug dealer and all-around criminal who terrorized even the toughest thugs in Vietnam.

Both men dig, together and each in his own way, for the reason this innocent woman was murdered, both thoroughly aware that by searching in the deep, they are offering their own lives to the Tiger's wrath.

Michael Allen Dymmoch has faultlessly linked the horrors of the war in Vietnam, from the viewpoints of those on both sides of the conflict and also from the hearts and minds of two very different men, and has woven them into a thrilling story of terror in the past and in the very present Now.

Author Notes

Michael Allen Dymmoch has degrees in chemistry and law enforcement. She is a former president of the Midwest chapter of Mystery Writers of America. She lives in a suburb of Chicago.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Chicago police detective John Thinnes began his law-enforcement career as an MP in Saigon in 1972. While in Vietnam, he served as best man when his friend Bobby Lee was married to Hue An. Decades later, investigating a shooting in Chicago's Little Saigon neighborhood, he realizes the victim is Hue An Lee. The prime suspect in the case is her son, Tien Lee, a Stanford grad and owner of a local martial-arts academy. The brass learns of Thinnes' relationship to the victim, and he is pulled off the case, but that never works in crime fiction. Thinnes struggles with recurring nightmares of the war and reaches out to another Vietnam vet, therapist Jack Caleb. Together they wrestle with Thinnes' demons and form an uneasy alliance as they sift through an array of troubled Vietnam vets, hoping to clear Tien and find the real murderer. Dymmoch constructs a very clever procedural and simultaneously explores the horrific lifetime residue of wars on the citizens we ask to fight them. A very strong novel. --Wes Lukowsky Copyright 2005 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Dymmoch's compelling fifth John Thinnes mystery (after 2003's The Feline Friendship) skillfully evokes the horrors of the Vietnam War. Called in to investigate a Vietnamese woman's murder, the Chicago detective recognizes the victim as Tien Lee, whose wedding to a friend and fellow soldier he attended in Saigon three decades earlier. Thinnes fears that he and Tien might have had a drunken one-night stand the evening of the wedding-and that he may therefore be the father of the prime suspect, Tien's half-Asian son. While Thinnes's female partner, Don Franchi, takes over the case, Thinnes turns for help in recovering his memory to Dr. Jack Caleb. A psychotherapist and one-time medic in Vietnam who specializes in treating vets, Caleb struggles with his own battlefield memories. As his friendship with Caleb grows, Thinnes comes to believe that a murderous criminal known only as White Tiger-someone he tried tracking down as an MP years earlier in Saigon-is back at work in Chicago. This solid, driving thriller should have wide appeal. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

When a Vietnamese woman is murdered in Chicago's Little Saigon neighborhood, Detective John Thinnes (The Feline Friendship) doesn't recognize her as an old friend until he attends her autopsy. Then he's named as the father of her son and only child, so he turns to psychiatrist and police consultant Dr. Jack Caleb to retrieve an old memory from Vietnam to see if the charge could be true. Interspersed with murder investigations are Caleb's searing accounts of his tours in Vietnam as a conscientious objector medic. Dymmoch spins a solid police procedural with a good sense of place (Chicago), and if the resolution of the White Tiger case seems too abrupt, it can be forgiven for its piercing evocation of Vietnam; describing a war from a grunt's point of view is an excellent argument against it. Dymmoch lives in a suburb of Chicago. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.