There’s an upstairs apartment in Chicago where a small group of middle-aged men maintain a secret club, The October Five. They are all Marine Vietnam War veterans, survivors of one horrific operation that went very bad. They tell no one about their club, even their families and closest friends. That’s because they work on secret projects together, projects that are highly illegal.
Detective Karl Whaler has a mystery on his hands. A young man has been murdered in his apartment, and no forensic evidence can be found. It’s hard to think why anyone would kill a person as universally beloved as this fellow was – until Karl learns that this man had been systematically defrauding many people, most of whom (such was his charm) still think of him fondly.
A chance discovery puts Karl on a surprising track – is this one in a series of murders, very neat murders in which the victims are people who very much deserved death, but whom the law could not touch?
Soon Karl will be pursuing the October Five. But he’s not their worst danger. Their worst danger will come from a quarter they could never have imagined.
For this reader, The October Five started out in an unpromising way. The beginning of the story meandered, and I got kind of bored with the Five themselves, going about their everyday lives. I had some trouble telling them apart. And Karl Whaler was not a terribly interesting detective.
But the book grabbed me as I moved on. I was particularly pleased with the story’s positive portrayal of Vietnam veterans.
Recommended, with cautions for language, violence, and ambiguous morality.