Broken Jewel

Written by David L. Robbins
Review by John R. Vallely

A Japanese prison camp in the Philippines is the setting for a tense novel of brutality, endurance, hope, and, most of all, love. The Tucks are two of the some 2,100 Allied men, women, and children held in conditions of near starvation in the Los Banos prison camp. Governed by the orders of an uncaring commandant and the psychopathic whims of his second-in-command, the prisoners spend their days awaiting the eventual American return. Young Talbot Tuck and a Filipina “comfort woman” named Carmen become lovers in the midst of the daily horrors that surround them. Remy Tuck, Tal’s father, copes with the death of friends by losing himself in card games but slowly comes to grips with his duties as a father. Their worlds are destined to come to a tragic end as the Japanese camp guards prepare to murder all of the civilian prisoners in the face of imminent Japanese defeat. Talbot, Carmen, and Remy race against time as Filipino guerrillas work with American paratroopers of the 11th Airborne Division to forestall the enemy plans. The moment of reckoning arrives as the paratroopers jump off in the early morning hours of February 23, 1945. Historically accurate and written by a skilled craftsman who is equally at home in describing the nuances of people under pressure as he is with suspense, the tale of Los Banos makes its mark.