Soho, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
Reviewed by Bob Walch
et in Taipei during Ghost Month (August), a time when families honor their dead, the central character in this novel is determined to find out who killed his former girl friend.
ing-nan and Julia Huang were high school sweethearts and one day they planned to get married. Both young people traveled to the U.S. for college but Jing-nan left UCLA, to return home and operate his family's food stall at the Shilin Night Market.
he couple had not seen each other for about five years when Jing-nan was shocked one day to see in the newspaper that Julia, a former honor student who received a scholarship to NYU, had been murdered. She had also returned home and been working in a roadside stand as a '
Betel nut beauty
hen the police seem to be dragging their feet in the investigation, Jing-nan decides he'll do what he can to find out why Julia was employed in a job that was considered one-step away from prostitution and why she was gunned down.
uickly the young Taiwanese runs afoul of what appear to be members of a major organized crime syndicate and warned to stop asking questions. With the assistance of another young woman who dates back to his high school days and the two men who work at the food stall, Jing-nan persists and, of course, finds himself in a whole lot of trouble.
he reader might be a bit incredulous when he discovers what Julia was really up to, but the strength of this thriller does not really lie in the protagonist's determination to seek justice. The real appeal here is the great detail that goes into describing the cultural customs and physical setting of this island country.
would imagine most readers, like me, are not that familiar with Taiwan but Ed Lin will rectify that situation. Quite frankly, this immersion in the novel's setting is what kept me reading. As an armchair traveler I found this a fascinating journey and Jing-nan's search for answers to what happened to Julia was just frosting on the cake.
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