Formosa Straits

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Nick Lamp has big plans for a new business venture in Taipei. Everything hinges on Cao Dai, a shadowy figure whose career stretches from the underworld of 1930s Shanghai to the high-tech, high-rise world of today's Taiwan. But when Nick answers Cao's summons, he's met only by a bloody corpse, and his dreams are shattered, transformed into a burgeoning nightmare. Suspected by the police, possibly framed by Cao's family, ultimately unable to trust even the woman he loves, Nick is forced to flee in order to prove ...
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Overview

Nick Lamp has big plans for a new business venture in Taipei. Everything hinges on Cao Dai, a shadowy figure whose career stretches from the underworld of 1930s Shanghai to the high-tech, high-rise world of today's Taiwan. But when Nick answers Cao's summons, he's met only by a bloody corpse, and his dreams are shattered, transformed into a burgeoning nightmare. Suspected by the police, possibly framed by Cao's family, ultimately unable to trust even the woman he loves, Nick is forced to flee in order to prove his innocence. His desperate journey takes him to Hong Kong, Shanghai, and the new China, but also leads into his family's past and dangerous secrets long buried.

In this top-notch international thriller, the bestselling author of The Red Fox takes readers inside the mystery society of Taiwan. When the son of a Chinese father and an American mother goes to meet an old family friend--the head of the Taiwan mafia--he soon finds himself not just in the middle of a murder investigation--but the main suspect.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hyde (China Lake) publishes rarely-this is only his third novel in 10 years-and it's easy to see why so much time passes between books. An expert craftsman, he makes every word count, carefully constructing memorable characters and, here, a Chinese puzzle box whose innermost chamber holds a politically explosive secret. At the same time, Hyde can tell a ripping tale. This one plunges into intrigue at once, as narrator Nick Lamp retreats from the corpse he's just discovered: the body of Cao Dai, Taiwan's top gangster but an old family friend, shot dead. As businessman Nick goes on the run to escape arrest by overzealous Taiwanese cops as well as possible retribution from Cao Dai's powerful family, his mixed ancestry of a Chinese father and American mother prompts in him many lengthy but always penetrating musings on Chinese mores and ways. Soon, Nick realizes that the key to the killing and to his safety lies in an old photo taken in Shanghai, of several revelers including his father-and Mao's last wife. Able to trust no one except, maybe, his American girlfriend, Nick wends a violent way toward the mainland and that city (as travelogue alone this novel soars) and toward revelations tied through intricate knots to the balance of world power. The final pages serve Nick a fate so poetically just that it rings false, but that's the only significant flaw in this otherwise unusually intelligent and finely wrought thriller. (July)
School Library Journal
YA-The classic suspense novel dumps a ``normal guy'' into a vast conspiracy and lets readers cringe and shiver as the protagonist uses luck and wits to survive ominous situations. Nick is the normal guy here, a Chinese businessman raised mostly in the West. He stumbles onto the corpse of a shady Taiwanese billionaire, and the stumbling continues as he tries to figure out why the Taiwanese police and Japanese agents are after him, why an American lawyer is so friendly, and whether his new lover is to be trusted. He scrambles to Hong Kong and Shanghai in search of the secret linking the murder victim to his dead father. Hyde sets himself a tough task in weaving an involved plot out of over 50 years of Chinese and Taiwanese history, and he doesn't entirely succeed: much of the historical exposition is boring, a flaw in a book that must keep readers zipping along. Moreover, the novel's credibility depends on Nick's actions immediately after finding the body, but those actions are too stupid to believe. Still, stupidity and contrivances aside, the writing is smooth, and Hyde generates just the right amount of confusion to keep readers hooked-even through the slow parts.-Chip Barnett, Rockbridge Regional Library, Lexington, VA
Gilbert Taylor
A practiced hand animates this intricate intrigue set in contemporary Taiwan. As with his two previous sophisticated thrillers, "The Red Fox" (1985) and "China Lake" (1992), Hyde sends his protagonist, Nick Lamp, on a quest decades into his personal past. A trap springs when Lamp finally meets Cao Dai, who he's been angling for a business deal. Arriving for an appointment with Cao, who has an important message for him, Lamp finds Cao dead. Yet clues to the message lie in an old photograph owned by the victim, which depicts Cao and Lamp's father back in Shanghai's chaotic days before the Communist victory. Have those dissolute days returned to plague the son? Pressed by the police, Lamp absconds to Hong Kong to plumb the memory of another friend of his father, whose hints subtly change the murder mystery into a tense espionage tale hinging on Jiang Qing (of Gang of Four infamy), Chinese missiles, and a deep-cover spy ring. Enhanced by Lamp's exquisite internal dialogue (the dramatic form throughout), Hyde's story irresistibly combines a puzzle, action, and stylishly rounded characters.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780449225769
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/27/1996
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 341
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.88 (h) x 0.97 (d)

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