International corruption, fluid sexuality and the making of a star detective feature heavily in Worlde's debut novel.
Freshly pink-slipped from her recession-sensitive job at the Board of Immigration Appeals, lawyer and recent graduate Julia Ahn decides to start her own detective agency in Washington, D.C. She has the blessing of her boyfriend and government employee, Denzil, although her affection for him is hardly passionate. Almost as soon as Julia opens her business, a fellow Vietnamese woman offers to pay her to fly to Hanoi and check up on her black-sheep brother, Tony Nguyen, who has been involved in a series of uncouth legal dealings for years. Following up on some troubling documents sent by Julia, a lesbian FBI agent named Sharon Silverstein encourages Julia to fly to Vietnam and investigate the matter further. Meanwhile, a few elegantly appointed town houses away, Judge Arthur Orlow is entertaining thoughts of murdering his mistress, Sheila, who, post-tryst with the judge, witnessed the inadvertent murder of an FBI agent. What Arthur doesn't know is that Sheila's connections and his own docket of immigration cases are about to complicate significantly his already tangled existence. This novel, whose title has hints of Graham Greene, is a peculiar mashup of a national security thriller and personal-awakening story. Worlde pairs the pacing and overwhelming tumult of a Tom Clancy thriller with on-the-nose prose stylings: "Denzil wondered if his friend had a gambling problem. He'd never gone to a casino with him before, had never been exposed to such compulsive behavior. He realized that he didn't really know White that well. He decided he should try, in the future, to be a better friend." The difference between this plainspoken, almost juvenile approach to emotions and the lethal scenarios the characters find themselves in lends the book a slightly superficial quality. Nonetheless, Worlde can write a terse, gripping scene, especially if that scene centers on sex and violence. Julia's official journey to her birth country adds an additional layer, although the dramatic interpersonal potential of this visit seems underused.
Multiple threads of international corruption woven together with relentless pacing and blunted style.
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