“Propulsive. . . . Highly enjoyable. . . . It sets up a sequel, one that I very much look forward to reading.” —The New York Times Book Review
A fresh, smart, and fast-paced revenge thriller about a college basketball player who discovers shocking truths about his family in the wake of his father’s murderVictor Li is devastated by his father’s murder, and shocked by a confessional letter he finds among his father’s things. In it, his father admits that he was never just a restaurateur—in fact he was part of a vast international crime syndicate that formed during China’s leanest communist years.
Victor travels to Beijing, where he navigates his father’s secret criminal life, confronting decades-old grudges, violent spats, and a shocking new enterprise that the organization wants to undertake. Standing up against it is likely what got his father killed, but Victor remains undeterred. He enlists his growing network of allies and friends to finish what his father started, no matter the costs.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Daniel Nieh is a Chinese-English translator and professional model. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
What worked for me: 1. The well-developed characters I particularly liked the fun interplay between Victor, his long-time best buddy Andre, and their roommate Eli. They’re funny, quirky, and genuinely seem to care about each other, though in their college-boy phase of life, that looks more like back-slapping and fist-bumping than hugs and crying on each other’s shoulders. The interaction between Victor and his two roommates helps show Victor’s emotions of grief at his dad’s murder and his anger at the kid-glove treatment the rest of the world gives him. Jules, Victor’s sister, is a terrific character, too. She’s irritating, acid-tongued, and uptight, but she assesses situations better than Victor. She deeply loves her brother. Her character arc, while not deeply developed, is compelling and right for her character. 2. The backstory There’s a lot of background information that we need as we read this book: old Li’s friendship and business dealings with the brotherhood, his character, etc. Not all of it can be conveyed in the present time because he’s dead when the novel opens. Nieh uses a lengthy letter from Li to his son to give us a picture of Li, his childhood (including really interesting information about the changes in Chinese culture after the revolution), his friendships with the others in the brotherhood, and how and why he had deceived his children. Nieh gives Li a writing voice of his own that is both revealing and entertaining and in sync with the other accounts of his personality. Even though all of it is backstory, it moves the story along. 3. The strong ending Obviously, I’m not going to spoil it for you! But after everything the characters have been through in both America and China, this resolution is satisfying. Well done. What didn’t work for me: 1. The middle section in Beijing slowed me down. Somehow, even with the characters running into life-threatening danger, I felt that the writing dragged its feet a bit. Victor’s thoughts center around his anger at his father for his double life, his grief, and his father’s instructions. His father’s last instructions have shattered his world but also opened it to a bigger one. It’s compelling for a while, but I got a bit tired of the repetition. 2. There’s also a sex scene thrown in late in the novel. (Victor’s inability to hook up with the women he wants to hook up with has been a recurring motif in the book.) It doesn’t add much to the story. Overall, a strong novel. Thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.