Long before the fall Ê As a reporter, Ward Just spent time in Vietnam before the war became a divisive, national nightmare. A Dangerous Friend, his 12th novel, is set in those early days. It's movingly evocative of that time before innocence turned to shame, and that place when it was still mysterious and compelling. The well-drawn main characters, two American foreign service officers, one with a bad conscience and one with no conscience at all, and a French couple who live in a seemingly parallel world, anticipate the catastrophic conflict that is to come. Author Just knows this world and these people and looks at them with a journalist's understanding of events and a novelist's understanding of what drives people to do what they do. This is an uncommonly fine novel, read with nuanced feeling by the author. Listeners with literary leanings should latch on to this one.

Sukey Howard reports on spoken word audio each month.

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