FLASH HOUSE by Aimee Liu


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A missing-persons thriller set in the late 1940s’ borderlands of Kashmir, where a determined American wife sets about uncovering what became of her journalist husband.

There are not many better places to disappear than Kashmir, the perennial casus belli sandwiched between India, Pakistan, and China. When Chinese-American journalist Aidan Shaw went there on assignment in 1949 to cover the latest border dispute, however, his American wife Joanna was not particularly concerned. Aidan, after all, had been on far more dangerous assignments, and he’d actually been given the Kashmir assignment as a way of getting him out of the more politically sensitive China bureau (where his articles criticizing the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek had made him the object of FBI and HUAC suspicion). When she’s later told that Aidan’s plane has crashed in Kashmir (but that no bodies had been recovered), Joanna simply can’t bring herself to believe it. Her reaction is partly denial, partly intuition—but whatever the reason, she’s sure that Aidan is still alive. She goes through the official channels (State Department, press agencies, UN police) and gets nowhere, so she enlists the help of Aidan’s best friend, Lawrence Malcolm (of the Australian secret service). Lawrence tells her bluntly that the only way to get reliable answers for anything connected with Kashmir is to go there yourself, so Joanna does, with Lawrence as her guide and the ten-year-old girl Kamla (whom Joanna had rescued from a New Delhi brothel) as their interpreter. In Kashmir, their trail leads them to China, then in the throes of a Communist revolution, and the question quickly arises: Who was Aidan really working for? A difficult question. But Joanna is determined to find her husband—or find out who he was.

Some nice historical scenery and a good cast of characters, but otherwise a standard potboiler from Liu (Cloud Mountain, 1997, etc.).

Pub Date: Feb. 5th, 2002
ISBN: 0-446-53097-2
Page count: 460pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2002