Shanghai Station

Shanghai Station

3.7 4
by Bartle Bull, Jonathan Fenby
     
 

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A masterful storyteller at the top of his form, Bartle Bull follows the successes of his popular Africa trilogy—A Café on the Nile, The White Rhino Hotel, and The Devil’s Oasis—with a rousing historical adventure. Shanghai Station is a compelling tale of political terror and personal vengeance that unfolds in 1918 in China’s colorful,

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Overview

A masterful storyteller at the top of his form, Bartle Bull follows the successes of his popular Africa trilogy—A Café on the Nile, The White Rhino Hotel, and The Devil’s Oasis—with a rousing historical adventure. Shanghai Station is a compelling tale of political terror and personal vengeance that unfolds in 1918 in China’s colorful, turbulent port city of Shanghai. Well-born Alexander Karlov arrives in Shanghai with a mission, for the Bolsheviks have brutally killed his mother and abducted his twin sister. Vengeance commands Alexander’s soul. It also entangles him in perilous alliances—with the Cossack hit man Ivan Semyonov; with Mei-lan, a woman who knows Shanghai’s darkest secrets; with “Big Ear,” leader of the city’s most powerful Triad; with the French police; and with a spirited young American woman who calls herself Jesse James.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Shifting his setting from Cafe on the Nile's mid-1930s Africa, Bull is back with another bloody good atmospheric (and frankly erotic) historic swashbuckler, this time set in Shanghai at the end of WWI. Fleeing the Bolsheviks in September 1918, 17-year-old Alexander Karlov and his mother and twin sister abandon their vast Russian estate (where five generations of his family have bred and trained black chargers for the czars) and take the Trans-Siberian railway 4,000 miles east to the port of Vladivostok, intending to reunite with Count Karlov, Alexander's soldier/father. When the train is attacked by Bolsheviks and Alexander's leg is broken, he must look helplessly on as his mother is murdered and his sister kidnapped by ruthless commissar Viktor Polyak. Taking their prize horses, Alexander and his father escape Vladivostok on a freighter just ahead of the Bolsheviks, looking to make a new life in exotic Shanghai. There, Mao Zedong and Soviet agent Mikhail Borodin are urging the downtrodden Chinese peasants to revolution, and Jessica James, 18, the impressionable daughter of passive missionaries, has come under Mao's thrall. Alexander barely sets foot on shore when, in rapid-fire order, he succumbs to the charms of his rich cousin's wanton mistress, rescues Shanghai's most infamous madam and helps his father establish Salle d'Armes, a riding and fencing school-all this before he meets Jesse, becomes a racing jockey and gets revenge on Polyak. Typical of Bull's sweeping epics, this unflinchingly gory yarn evokes the sights, sounds, tastes and scents of a splendidly decadent era. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Forbes Magazine
This historical adventure novel captures the sweep of human nature in a world that we'll never see again. Bartle Bull brilliantly brings to life post-WWI Shanghai. Bull's story centers on young Alexander Karlov, who is part of the �migr� community that fled revolutionary Russia. Karlov and his aristocratic, ex-soldier father are consumed by a double agenda: making a living and taking ven-geance on the Bolsheviks, particularly on the commissar who murdered Alexander's mother, ab-ducted his twin sister and smashed Alexander's leg. (19 Apr 2004)
—Steve Forbes
Kirkus Reviews
Fleeing Russia and rampaging Bolsheviks, a count and his son set up shop as aristotrainers in 1918 Shanghai, a city with plenty of ethnopolitical problems of its own. Despite plenty of adjustments for today's sensibilities and political correctness (it really was a dashed hard life for the serfs, and those coolies with their night soil-well!), old-fashioned adventure novelist Bull (the Africa-set Devil's Oasis, 2001, etc.) can't hide his fondness for the tsarist upper-crust, their lawn parties, their lawn dresses, their oneness with horses, their flamboyant indebtedness, and their preservation of swashbuckling, which figures heavily throughout. Young swordsman Alexander Karlov, whose semiresolved adventures suggest the opening of a new series, is at the center of things here, failing to defend his dreamy reformist mum or his twin sister Katia against brutal Leninist aristocrat eliminator Viktor Polyak who has tracked down their eastbound train, strangled mum, and absconded with sis, stopping only to crush Alexander's leg in a door-squish maneuver before taking it on the lam. Nursed by faithful retainers and loyal White soldiers, the banged-up young Karlov limps into Shanghai with plenty of bad news for his nearly broke but still dashing father. The Karlovs are just the most recent arrivals in a flood of tsarist loyalists and revolutionary losers starting over again in the great international port. After shedding a solemn tear for the late countess, Count Karlov opens a line of credit, rents an unused opium warehouse, and sets up a riding and swordfighting shop. Young Alexander, when not helping with the new business, rescues and befriends a Chinese madam and strikes sparks with a prettyyoung Californian who is soft on the Soviets and about to get entangled with evil Viktor Polyak, now dragging his net along the Huangpo. Alexander must have vengeance. Not terribly tense, and there's more than a whiff of prewar Hollywood in the stagy dialogue. Maybe a sequel will pick up steam.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786713141
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
02/15/2004
Pages:
394
Product dimensions:
6.22(w) x 9.08(h) x 1.32(d)

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