Everyone, at any given time, has a secret.
Kittitas County Connection: Author Philip Derrick is a retired football coach and teacher at Easton High School.
One thing Sergeant Travis Nickels knew for sure when he returned to the USA in 1971 – he was done with both the Army and South Vietnam.
But four years later fate has arranged for his return to the land he left behind.
He will find a country in it’s final death throes, a woman from his past, and a mysterious man who wants something from him that could mean his life.
Sometimes things come full circle with a twist.
And secrets can be costly.
4 STARS – Reviewed by Essien Asian for Readers Favorite Book Reviews: “Not even the anonymity that comes with an assumed identity is enough to keep Jim Peterson off the radar of his pursuer in Philip Derrick’s latest book, Saigon Spring. The Vietnam War is drawing to a slow, painful conclusion and Jim has left it behind. He tries to make a new beginning for himself back home but before he can get settled into a different routine, he is mysteriously recalled to Saigon where he is forced to relive the horrors of a war he put behind him all over again. Someone from his past seeks him out with vengeance and will stop at nothing to exact retribution. Will he be able to unearth the secrets that lie locked away in the rubble of Saigon before the Salamander locates him? Philip Derrick uses exceptional storytelling to capture the reader’s imagination. The initial parts of the book feel somewhat dull but as the story unfolds, so does the suspense build-up. I particularly like the way the characters’ backstories and motivations become more apparent as the story progresses. The attention to detail as far as the Vietnam War is concerned is simply astonishing. There are certain aspects of the story which left me with more questions than answers such as the reason why Jim enlists in the military using an alias, but then, this is my opinion and I expect other readers will draw their conclusions. Saigon Spring is a captivating book with a storyline that is guaranteed to leave readers spellbound.” – Essien Asian
5 STARS – “Suspenseful and brutal mystery story. I couldn’t put this down once I started reading. The action begins early in the story and doesn’t let up! Set in the background of the end of the Viet Nam war, this is a tale of adventure and heartbreak and hope. The plot twist near the end was surprising, but not unbelievably so. The “villain” of the story is an absolute monster, and his eventual demise was harsh, yet so satisfying. The main character has witnessed the brutalities of a hopeless war, and the ruthlessness of individuals who commit atrocities in the name of their cause. In spite of this, he still manages to feel compassion and love. It’s a gripping adventure filled with fascinating history and a compelling story.” – Kimberly
5 STARS – “Fantastic sequel! Our hero from the first book has returned to the US following the war, and at first it appears PTSD and society’s poor treatment of veterans will be his nemesis. However, Travis Nickels may be done with Vietnam, but it isn’t done with him, and he must return to confront the demons he’s tried to leave behind. Just like the first book, Saigon Spring tackles tough topics unflinchingly. The action is non-stop, and the writing style is engaging. The author weaves a mystery so engrossing you’ll struggle not to read the book in one sitting. I won’t give any spoilers, but was glad that the cliffhanger from the first book was addressed!” – Alex
5 STARS – “You cannot put it down. A thrilling continuation of the Vietnam series written by Philip Derrick. I couldn’t put this book down as soon as I initiated it; Derrick pulls the reader in and continues with short chapters keep the reader interested. With a clear timeline and storyline that could accurately resemble the life of a desolate individual, “I was down to my sock $20”. The story moves quickly and is quite interesting during this easy read.” – Elissa Casperson
5 STARS – “Prepare to be on the edge of your seat. Saigon Spring is a thrilling second chapter in Phillip Derricks Vietnam mystery series. This book will have you sure you know who’s who and what’s what – until a devious twist leaves you with more questions than answers. Fate has a way of Sergeant Travis Nickels, as do the secret he’s sworn to take to the grace. Be prepared to gasp while reading this one, as Phillip Derricks intricate mystery begins unfolding on page one, and certainly doesn’t end with the final chapter.” – Halla Warner
5 STARS – “What if you were a vet? This story sends you on a journey as a vet after vietnam and poses questions into the glorious life we imagined being a vet would offer. A provoking book and sad to read. Not usually a fan of war novels but this was amazing.” – Jessica Robinson
4 STARS – “An interesting book about PTSD and post-war life. Saigon Spring is a gripping read. It takes you along a journey as our main character, James Peterson, returns from the Vietnam War and tries to readjust to normal life. However, all of his efforts come to a halt when he finds he had committed crimes in his past, and it was coming to collect. He goes back to Saigon in order to deal with his nemesis who has begun hunting him down with a desire for vengeance, and has to reckon with his conscience and PTSD from the war. An exciting read and very interesting!” – P.
5 STARS – “Return to Vietnam. I experienced the Vietnam War and was amazed how true history joined with a great story of people in the time of Vietnam War. Travis brought returned to this country and worked and found love. I truly enjoyed the people and times.” – Kayak Jay
4 STARS – “Suspenseful war novel. This book is so hard to put down. I don’t usually read this type of book and I haven’t read the first book, but this book has already sucked me in. Without giving too much away, there is plenty of mystery and suspense to keep you hooked from the beginning.” – Kassy Dunn
5 STARS – “Great twist to a great book. I would highly recommend this book as it follows a lone person on a journey to find the … can’t spoil it all. Grab this book and begin to turn the page – if you are like me you may not be able to put it down until you find the answers you seek.” – Dan
5 STARS – “Excellent book!!! This is the sequel to the “Facing the Dragon”, and it was a masterful follow up. It is an excellent novel with both incredible commentary about a veteran facing the reality of life outside war, and a thrilling story line. Typically I read a book over a few days, but with this one I was so drawn into the story I finished very quickly. This book is an easy read, and one that I would recommend to a friend!” – Sunil S.
5 STARSS – “Intrigue around every corner. I enjoyed the suspense of the plot and historical base on which the book was built. Tied in nicely with Derrick’s first novel. A very worthy read!” – Susan V. Berndt
5 STARS – “A mystery that demands your attention. This is one of those books that just grabs you by the throat and demands every bit of your attention. This is one book you’ll never stop thinking about until you find out the next chapter, the next clue, the next bit that puts together this masterful puzzle. Looking forward to book 3…” – Tatiana
5 STARS – “Hooked from page one. Full disclosure: I am only on chapter 7 so far. But then, I just received my copy of Saigon Spring last night. I read the first book in the series, Facing the Dragon, shortly after it came out in 2018. Derrick kept me going for an entire day+. I just couldn’t put the book down. Then, cleverly, he left me hanging at the end. . .I’ve been waiting a few years now to conclude what he began in book #1. Book #2 made me whole within the first few chapters. But, now I am off and running with the rest of James Peterson’s (or is it Travis Nickels?) life. Or perhaps we will learn even more in book #3? Dr. Derrick?”– Teresa Van Lone
4 STARS – “Great suspense war story. This novel follows Nickels throughout his life from college to the end of the Vietnam war. Read along to see the many adventures he encounters and how he survives the attempt on his life by the salamander. Great read. Would recommend.” – J. Cosentino
About the Author:
Philip Derrick was brought up as an Air Force brat before disappointing his father and joining the Army. After volunteering for Vietnam, he served a tour with the 2nd Infantry Division on the DMZ in South Korea. He is a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Following college on the GI Bill he became a probation officer. This came to an abrupt halt several years later when he had to disarm a disgruntled drunk ex-marine of a shotgun on the main street of town one night. He figured there had to be a safer line of work.
The result was a Ph.D from the University of Idaho and career change into higher education as a professor and Dean of Students. Later he became a high school football coach (121-60 record) and history teacher enabling him to both coach and teach each of his three sons. It was a great experience despite having his house toilet papered twice.
He has been on the TODAY show and interviewed by Brian Williams on the NBC Nightly News. But he’s also had his house burn down with 60 others in a wildfire. Easy come, easy go.
He currently lives in the Cascade mountains an hour from Seattle and watches the deer pass by his living room window on a daily basis. In his study are more than 1,000 books, none of which his spouse allows outside the room since he otherwise leaves them lying around all over the place.
He can be contacted at philipderrick.com.
For Saigon Spring:
Finalist, Adventure: War & Military Category – THE 2022 AMERICAN FICTION AWARDS, Sponsored by American Book Fest
For “Facing the Dragon” (1st book in the series):
Article from the Northern Kittitas County Tribune reprinted with permission …And the national awards, accolades keep rolling in – for author Phil Derrick – KITTITAS COUNTY – Easton School teacher, Philip Derrick, was a winning author at the PenCraft Awards ceremony held near Houston, Texas on November 10. His book, Facing the Dragon, tells the tale of a teenager caught in the crosshairs of the Vietnam War, and was a 1st Place winner in the Thriller Category. Derrick is a combat veteran who served in the Army during that war. He was one of two veterans receiving awards from PenCraft.
Mark Wulf, coordinator for the organization stated, “We’re happy to be able to celebrate their success as authors during Veteran’s month as recently declared by President Trump.”
Derrick’s book is the fictional story of 15-year-old Jim Peterson who takes on the identity of a soldier murdered on his way to serve in Vietnam.
Could a 15-year-old really pull off such a feat? “Yes,” said Derrick. “Dan Bullock, a U.S. Marine, has the sad distinction of being the youngest service member killed in Vietnam. He died at 14 in June of 1969.”
Derrick’s teenager not only takes on the identity of a murdered soldier, but also goes to Vietnam to find the man he believes is responsible for the death of that soldier.
On his return from Houston, Derrick was greeted with the news that Facing the Dragon was also a Literary Classics award winner. From that organization he won Gold Medals in the Adventure, Thriller and Mystery Categories, and a Silver Medal in the Historical Category. Literary Classics describes Derrick’s book as “a mystery thriller of epic proportions,” and calls the author an exceptional storyteller. “With historical and technical accuracy, Facing the Dragon, is a spellbinding book and we look forward to more from this author.” “The competition this year was tremendous,” according to Literary Classics, who have been recognizing writers and their books for eight years. “This year more than ever before our reviewers had their work cut out for them.” Silver, Gold and Top Honors recipients are to attend the writer’s conference, awards ceremony, formal gala and authors’ book signing held in conjunction with the Great American Book Festival in Rapid City, SD, in May 2019.
These two awards join other awards and review recognitions for Derrick’s book. He recently received a 1st Place award in the Thriller Category from the New York City Big Book Award, which this year recognized independent authors across six continents. His book also won the 7th Annual Beverly Hills Book Award in the Military Fiction category and was a finalist in the Action/Adventure category. Additionally, Military Writers Society of America describes Facing the Dragon as “one of the best of the Vietnam War thrillers.” San Francisco Book Review calls it “a powerful novel, rich in historical detail and characterization.” Derrick has a Ph.D. in Education/History from the University of Idaho. He lives in Cle Elum and has taught junior high and high school history, English and math at Easton for 17 years. Facing the Dragon
will soon be (edit:is now) available at NKC Tribune, 807 W. Davis (509-674-2511) in Cle Elum, and online at KittitasBooks.com.
- Paperback: 301 pages
- Publisher: Sunnyslope Press; 1 edition (May 30, 2022)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0999120220
- ISBN-13: 978-0999120224
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 8 inches