A Death in China

( 12 )

Overview

From Carl Hiaasen and the distinguished foreign correspondent Bill Montalbano comes a relentless novel of treachery and murder set in the clenched society of China, where even tomorrow’s weather is a state secret.

David Wang, a Chinese-American art historian, dies shortly after a visit to an ancient tomb housing priceless artifacts. Officials diagnose death by duck, a fatal confluence of culture shock and rich cuisine. But Wang’s friend Tom Stratton suspects something more ...

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Overview

From Carl Hiaasen and the distinguished foreign correspondent Bill Montalbano comes a relentless novel of treachery and murder set in the clenched society of China, where even tomorrow’s weather is a state secret.

David Wang, a Chinese-American art historian, dies shortly after a visit to an ancient tomb housing priceless artifacts. Officials diagnose death by duck, a fatal confluence of culture shock and rich cuisine. But Wang’s friend Tom Stratton suspects something more sinister, especially after the dead man’s brother, a highly placed Party official, tries to have him kidnapped. From a nightmarish interrogation to assassination by cobra, A Death in China takes readers on a trip with no rest stops through a world of claustrophobic mistrust and terrifying danger.

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Editorial Reviews

Herbert Mitgang
[An] imaginative thriller. -- The New York Times Book Review
Library Journal
Published in 1984, 1981, and 1982, respectively, these novels feature action, intrigue, violence, and murder. In the Hitchcock vein, they also portray protagonists who are just ordinary people--a professor, an architect, and a fishing-boat captain--who are dragged into extraordinary circumstances. LJ's reviewer found Death in China "tautly written," adding that Montalbano and Hiaasen have a "fine flair for characters and settings" (LJ 4/1/84).
New York Times Book Review
"A tutly written, fast-paced thriller that captures the real China."
Time
"A terrific story... Montalbano ad Hiassen hae brought it off splendidly."
Wall Street Journal
"Montalbano and Hiaasen have created a Middle Kingdom maelstrom of intrigues, deceits, lusts and carnards. Like China itself, what often seems to be too implausible turns out to be real."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375700675
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/28/1998
  • Series: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 195,675
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Carl Hiaasen is the author of seven other novels.  He lives in Key West, Florida.

Biography

When one thinks of the classics of pulp fiction, certain things -- gruff, amoral antiheroes, unflinching nihilism, and a certain melodramatic self-seriousness -- inevitably come to mind. However, the novels of Carl Hiaasen completely challenge these pulpy conventions. While the pulp of yesteryear seems forever chiseled in an almost quaint black and white world, Hiaasen's books vibrate with vivid color. They are veritable playgrounds for wild characters that flout clichés: a roadkill-eating ex-governor, a bouncer/assassin who takes care of business with a Weed Wacker, a failed alligator wrestler named Sammy Tigertail. Furthermore, Hiaasen infuses his absurdist stories with a powerful dose of social and political awareness, focusing on his home turf of South Florida with an unflinching keenness.

Hiaasen was born and raised in South Florida. During the 1970s, he got his start as a writer working for Cocoa Today as a public interest columnist. However, it was his gig as an investigative reporter for The Miami Herald that provided him with the fundamentals necessary for a career in fiction. "I'd always wanted to write books ever since I was a kid," Hiaasen told Barnes & Noble.com. "To me, the newspaper business was a way to learn about life and how things worked in the real world and how people spoke. You learn all the skills -- you learn to listen, you learn to take notes -- everything you use later as a novelist was valuable training in the newspaper world. But I always wanted to write novels."

Hiaasen made the transition from journalism to fiction in 1981 with the help of fellow reporter Bill Montalbano. Hiaasen and Montalbano drew upon all they had learned while covering the Miami beat in their debut novel Powder Burn, a sharp thriller about the legendary Miami cocaine trade, which the New York Times declared an "expertly plotted novel." The team followed up their debut with two more collaborative works before Hiaasen ventured out on his own with Tourist Season, an offbeat murder mystery that showcased the author's idiosyncratic sense of humor.

From then on, Hiaasen's sensibility has grown only more comically absurd and more socially pointed, with a particular emphasis on the environmental exploitation of his beloved home state. In addition to his irreverent and howlingly funny thrillers (Double Whammy, Sick Puppy, Nature Girl, etc), he has released collections of his newspaper columns (Kick Ass, Paradise Screwed) and penned children's books (Hoot, Flush). With his unique blend of comedy and righteousness ("I can't be funny without being angry."), the writer continues to view hallowed Florida institutions -- from tourism to real estate development -- with a decidedly jaundiced eye. As Kirkus Reviews has wryly observed, Hiassen depicts "...the Sunshine State as the weirdest place this side of Oz."

Good To Know

Perhaps in keeping with his South Floridian mindset, Hiaasen keeps snakes as housepets. He says on his web site, "They're clean and quiet. You give them rodents and they give you pure, unconditional indifference."

Hiaasen is also a songwriter: He's co-written two songs, "Seminole Bingo" and "Rottweiler Blues", with Warren Zevon for the album Mutineer. In turn, Zevon recorded a song based on the lyrics Hiaasen had written for a dead rock star character in Basket Case.

In Hiaasen's novel Nature Girl, he gets the opportunity to deal with a long-held fantasy. "I'd always fantasized about tracking down one of these telemarketing creeps and turning the tables -- phoning his house every night at dinner, the way they hassle everybody else," he explains on his web site. "In the novel, my heroine takes it a whole step farther. She actually tricks the guy into signing up for a bogus ‘ecotour' in Florida, and then proceeds to teach him some manners. Or tries."

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    1. Hometown:
      Tavernier, Florida
    1. Education:
      Emory University; B.A., University of Florida, 1974

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 12 )
Rating Distribution

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(4)

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2000

    Surprisingly Good

    I thought this book was very well written, and kept my attention til the very end. I had to read it for school, and didnt expect it to be nearly as good as it was.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2012

    Excellent

    Great book, very well written & fast paced. Highly recommend!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2012

    Is it good?????

    I havent read it yet so i hope its good!!!!!!

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 1, 2013

    If you were looking for Carl he aint here in this overly long an

    If you were looking for Carl he aint here in this overly long and disjointed novel. Probably relevant to Chinese history but a story that lacks consistency and doesn't ring true with Carl's sense of humor.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2010

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