on May 20, 2012 :
In 1996, Claire Raymond is a smart, shrewd former journalist running the Hong Kong branch of a business magazine. Claire was born in the States but has lived in Hong Kong since the '70's. With her job, her hair color (in Chinese mythology red hair spelled demon), and her height, at 5'10" she was taller than many Asian men, she had a difficult time with long term relationships.
Claire's friend, Father Fresnay, has sent a man to talk to Claire. This man, a doctor, tells a very strange and if true, an incredibly gruesome story involving the trafficking of viable human organs for transplant. What she hears is very unsettling but there is just this man's word and no collaborating evidence and she has a lot on her plate. Her New York deadline is looming and her reporter hasn't shown up, nor did he make an interview he had scheduled. Before she can look into the strange story the doctor has told her, she must find her reporter Vic. She has Cecilia, her Chinese assistant, send out feelers about the story, to see if any of her journalist friends have heard about this organ trafficking story. She needs to track down her wayward reporter Vic.
Instead of Vic, Claire finds Chris Hager, her magazine's Bangkok stringer. A stringer is a reporter that works freelance, usually for several different papers and magazines. Claire's not sure what he's doing in Hong Kong, in Vic's room, but he gives her the old song and dance. She eventually gets a message, supposedly from Vic, saying he's fine, had taken a little holiday, but now due to extreme traffic, and tourists, he will be delayed getting back. As he often comes up with excuses, Claire is not surprised.
A few days later, Claire goes for a hike with 2 of her friends. A body washes up on a nearby shore, badly damaged by marauding sharks, and a single bullet hole. Worse yet, Claire catches a glimpse of the man, its one of her reporters!
After an autopsy, and a meet with other interested parties at the embassy, Claire is informed that one of her reports was spotted in China, which is horrible news! The embassy can't help him because they have such a fragile relationship with China. Claire is given a surprising suggestion.
With the death of one of her male reporters, and having to sneak into China (if the Chinese find out she's entered without the proper journalist papers, it could result in a major incident) to get the other reporter out, Claire's time is running out. But as Claire soon finds out, things are just getting interesting.
This has a great locale, very well described, right down to the bricks on the streets, credible and likeable characters (I can picture Cecilia in my mind easily), and an interesting mystery. I had really high hopes for this book because of the different locale and a rather gruesome mystery but it just didn't grab me tight. I would still give it a read as the author has a beautiful way of describing the locales, the scenes and the people.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
on May 19, 2012 :
I struggle with reviewing this book. My struggle is whether to rate based on the storyline or the quality of writing. More on that later.
The storyline is morose and compelling. I have no doubt that the subject matter is accurate and indicative of what goes on behind the red curtain. From that perspective, this is a compelling story that we should all have the opportunity to read. Global reality is sometimes very hard to accept.
The writing is obviously done by someone for which English is a second language. The author's English language skills are pretty good but that makes it all the more difficult to read a sentence when the syntax goes awry or extra words are inserted. I found myself re-reading sentences over and over trying to find the point. Sometimes I failed and had to read on. In addition, the author repeats storyline items over and over as if he is trying to remind the reader of the instant point he wishes to make. I found this redundance bothersome.
I compromised my rating as a 4 for the storyline and a 3 for the writing style for an average of 3.5. Since I think the story is important for everyone to be aware of, I rounded the rating up to a 4 (except on Librarything where I can give half star ratings.)
(reviewed 27 days after purchase)