FORMOSA STRAITS by Anthony Hyde

FORMOSA STRAITS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Hyde (China Lake, 1992; The Red Fox, 1985) returns in top form with an intricately woven tale of love, murder, and family set in the new Asia. Nick Lamp, a Taiwan businessman, goes to meet local Mafioso Cao Dai, but finds him dead. Fearing the authoritarian methods of the Taiwanese police, Nick runs from the scene. He soon discovers a prostitute who claims to have been in Cao Dai's apartment when he was killed, though she has no explanation for the murder itself. When the prostitute meets a violent end, the police question Nick; he soon believes that they're setting him up to be the patsy for Cao Dai's slaying. Afraid of both the police and Cao Dai's sons, Nick escapes from Taiwan, figuring the only way to clear himself is to find Cao Dai's killer. His search takes him to Hong Kong, Shanghai, and deep into mainland China, his only clues a counterfeit copy of Asiaweek and an old photograph showing Cao Dai and Nick's father with a group of Chinese actresses. Hyde masterfully connects Cao Dai's murder to political intrigues inside China, including a failed coup from the past, and to present-day missile technology. Throughout, Nick is encumbered by his racial heritage; the son of a Chinese man and an American woman, he often feels like ``a banana...yellow on the outside, white on the inside.'' He's also troubled by his relationship with Laurie, an American who seems more Chinese than he does. His father's legacy becomes a burden when Nick unearths a number of the dead man's indiscretions. Hyde's seamless narrative keeps readers close to Nick every mental and physical step of the way in a story that's as much a study of contemporary Chinese culture as it is a first-class thriller. Intelligent, literate, and unsentimental.

Pub Date: July 6th, 1995
ISBN: 0-679-44039-9
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1995