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From War in Vietnam to a Battle at Home - an Editorial Review of "The Investigation Officer's File"

Book Blurb:

When Ricardo Jackson reported for duty with the Third Marine Division in Vietnam, his biggest fear was being shipped home in a coffin. It never occurred to him that he would be transferred, in handcuff s and leg irons, from Vietnam to the federal prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to serve 20 years for the convictions of charges relating to the murder of a Marine officer.

After Woody White earned his commission as a second lieutenant in the Marines, he completed his training and reported to the Third Marine Division in Vietnam, to serve as a legal defense attorney, even though he had never tried a case.

Woody White was the only thing standing between Ricardo Jackson and twenty years at the federal prison at Fort Leavenworth, and time was running out...

Author Bio:

Dallas Clark graduated from Wake Forest with a BA and JD and is licensed to practice law in North Carolina. He enlisted in the US Marines during law school and volunteered to serve in Vietnam. While in the Corps, he served as defense counsel, chief trial counsel of the Third Marine Division. He was certified as a special courts-martial judge. He was in private course for over 4 years and was a family law specialist. He has three daughters, two sons-in-law and five grandchildren. He lives in Greenville NC

Editorial Review:

Honor, Courage, and Commitment; these are the Core Values of the USMC. Whether a warrior with pen or sword (or M16), the Corps is trained to embody these values in every action. Dallas Clark’s The Investigation Officers File takes readers for a wild ride behind the curtain to see what price is paid to live that code.

The law is more than what is in the books; it involves the practical experiences people have and how the law impacts their lives.

Woody White is a lawyer, charged with upholding the law, but Woody is also a Marine in Vietnam. The two are not mutually exclusive, but pieces of the whole man. A man of honor trained to protect the interests of his clients above all else.

He had the feeling there was a body bag with his name on it. It never crossed his mind that he could leave Vietnam in handcuffs and leg irons as a prisoner convicted of first-degree murder

Lance Corporal Ricardo Jackson didn’t have plans to be a marine but found himself thriving as a leatherneck in war-torn Vietnam. Falsely convicted and headed for Fort Leavenworth, he’s surprised with an ally and advocate in Woody White.

Set in the second half of the of Vietnam War conflict, readers are exposed to the gritty details of life on Vandegrift Combat Base (VCB). Brimming with a cast of characters from entitled to victimized, we gain background and insight into several and the roles they play in the story of how an incompetent Second Lieutenant Speight meets his demise at the hands of his own men, courtesy of a tossed grenade. Woody White’s arrival at VCB and his reputation of tenacity and determination in the courtroom set him up as the persistent litigator seeking justice for his client to the end, even when it appears he can’t win.

Grant was hoping Speight would get WIA or KIA, and then he wouldn’t have to worry about Speight messing up again. Grant knew that one way or another, Speight had to go.

There’s no doubt for the readers who the killer is, or who the victim is; it’s easily set up early on in the book. Regardless of what happens next, readers are clued in that Grant will be a part of Speight’s death. What isn’t known is how the innocent will escape unjust persecution, or a day of reckoning will unfold for marines who don’t live by their code.

...there are going to be errors in trials, but there will probably be no reversal for harmless error—an error that probably didn’t change the outcome. On the other hand, reversal is probably required if the error was prejudicial, meaning something happened in the trial which was not legally acceptable, and which may, or probably did, affect the outcome.

This is the needle in the haystack handed to Woody. Were there any errors in the trial that have Jackson headed out of the marines and into prison? Is Jackson lying about this innocence? Even if Wood can prove that Jackson is innocent, will it make a difference to Jackson’s outcome? Not only is Woody given a difficult task, but he also has the obstacles of glory-seeking and weary officers to contend with along the way.

due to a typhoon, NIS couldn’t get to VCB for a couple of days after the murder, so the initial investigation at VCB was handled by a first lieutenant with no investigation skills. He may have missed something.

Ignorance and incompetence were not the only things working against Jackson, but certainly don’t bode well for supplying only a harmless error. Each of Woody’s cases up to this point have dealt with something missed. A missing diagnosis of mental illness. A missing plea into the record. Now, the fate of Jackson rests in Woody’s hands because of a missing puzzle piece, somewhere.

“…unless you pull a smoking gun out of your ass and put it in someone else’s hand, your client is gone. Do you think there are any more cards you can play?”

To the very end, Woody puts all he can into getting justice for Jackson. An eleventh-hour review of The Investigation Officer’s File has Woody solving the mystery and finding what he was missing. A confession of guilt, a victim’s justice, and a day of reckoning for an obstruction of justice finish the tale of Woody White’s legal thriller.

The book is filled with imagery of life as a front-line marine in 1969. From climate to conduct, Clark paints a graphic yet very realistic picture. He takes a very thorough approach to identifying and explaining jargon which might otherwise be foreign to a civilian or anyone unfamiliar. It’s easy for readers to immerse themselves in the story and not struggle with detractors. The Investigation Officer’s File is overall a tale of honor and conduct becoming a marine. Throughout the story, the underlying ethos of Leave No Man Behind is felt, attributed to White’s legal prowess and tenacity to do everything he can for his fellow marine. The story follows a familiar and predictable path for the victim but is filled with several turns along the way to keep readers engrossed in the story and rooting for the happy ending they see coming.


“The Investigation Officer's File” by Dallas Clark receives four stars from The Historical Fiction Company


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