Purple Sunshine meshes the Vietnam War with a thriller and a love story.
Before he’s drafted, Jimmy “Purple” Hayes’ psychedelic band was on the cusp of success: getting paid, getting laid and getting high. Home on leave, he’s playing blues at Clyde Bonaventure’s illegal after hours Detroit club, when he falls hard for Gloria.
A teenage runaway, Gloria is a musical savant with a complex of emotional issues after a lifetime of abuse at the hand of her murderous pedophile stepfather. A wealthy attorney and accountant, Matthew Doran keeps books for the Gargano crime family and other unsavory characters. Few know—or admit to knowing—but Gloria knows, and she’s learning more about his dark secrets all the time.
Gloria and Jimmy share a secret. They know who killed two policemen during in Detroit’s urban riot, and they know why. It’s easy to keep secrets while they’re making musical magic with their studio musician friend Roscoe. It’s not so easy when Jimmy’s off to Vietnam and Gloria’s on the streets alone.
Trained to fix helicopters, Jimmy finds sleeping on a mattress and eating hot chow beats being a grunt in the bush. But instead of fixing them, he’s a helicopter door gunner, and he’s good at it. He also smokes a little dope, and the corrupt first sergeant, Jubal Sypher, wants to put him in Long Binh Jail. Soon Jimmy’s transferred to the Headhunters, the gunship platoon, and killing is his main job. His transformation from peace, love and rock and roll to violence is complete.
On the streets, Gloria is the hippie chick Sunshine when she’s singing for her supper. She can dazzle music professors or the crowd at an antiwar rally with ease. She doesn’t like what she’s learning about herself, especially when the rage building up inside her ignites. Her stepfather wants her dead. The Garganos want her dead. The police just want her. She’s proving adept at running away, especially when she literally goes underground. And for the first time in her life, she’s making friends. But she’s running out of money and her pursuers are closing in.
Can Detroit’s sneaky five-foot one homicide detective Al Checchi and Staff Sergeant Jimmy Ray Suggs, the Army’s smoothly efficient CID investigator, unravel a trail of murders that stretches all the way from Detroit to Vietnam? Why does the media believe that Jimmy and the U.S. Army massacred more than a hundred unarmed civilians? Will Gloria learn to manage her rage in time save her soul? Can Jimmy help her?
Just maybe he can.
Beginning with the August 1967 Detroit riot and moving to a heart-pounding conclusion during the February 1968 Tet Offensive, Purple Sunshine stretches around the world from Michigan to Vietnam with non-stop action and unexpected twists.