This is book two of a three book series featuring the American attorney, David Stark, and the Chinese Inspector of the Ministry of Public Security, Liu Hulan. As this story opens, Liu is pregnant and that is an undercurrent throughout the book, because they are not married.

Hulan receives a letter from a friend from the Cultural Revolution past. Schuee’s daughter was murdered, but the local police said it was suicide. Schuee wants Hulan to prove murder. Schuee believes the murder was connected to the daughter working at a nearby toy factory.

After Stark watches a friend killed in a hit and run in LA, he signs on with a law firm to open an office in Beijing so he can be close to Hulan. They both become involved in the troubles at the toy factory.

The layers of this story build with every chapter. Before long it is obvious that this is not a simple murder investigation.

Lisa See is herself from a Chinese family on her mother’s side and fully experienced that half of her being, in spite of looking Anglo. She has traveled extensively in China and has a number of books about China to her credit. To me, that is important to know because it tells me that I can trust the pictures she creates about the country and it’s people. It also helps me in particular because her first book, Flower Net, and this one are set in the year and next year after my own short trip to China in 1996. I am no expert on the country, but she did describe many scenes similar to ones I witnessed first hand.

If you want a complex story that gives you a lot of information at the same time, this is it.

Mike Lawrence

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