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 A breathless, helter-skelter race in cyberspace, effortlessly melded here with the tale of a Chinese woman's journey from the 1920s to the present, and with her granddaughter's terrifying chase to solve familial mysteries and industrial murder. Charlotte Lee is CEO of Harmony Biotech, manufacturers of ancient Chinese herbal medicines, now carefully monitored for safety and reliability through the best modern technology. Charlotte, who inherited the business from Perfect Harmony, her late grandmother, must suddenly face the accusation that three people have died after ingesting her products. Having been warned by v.p. (and cousin) Desmond, Charlotte drives out into awful weather (a tempest appropriately pounds away at California through much of the action) and is almost killed in a freak accident (or was it?). There are other unsettling near misses involving Charlotte's friends, and a message on the Internet advises her to make a public statement of company guilt within the next 12 hours--or else. Then into the intensifying miseries comes Jonathan, Charlotte's long-lost love who had inexplicably married another. Jonathan sets to work to make computer magic and unravel the conspiracy. Wood jumps back then to 1908 Singapore to relate the history of Perfect Harmony and her years of trial, suffering, and triumph. Before the close, with a starburst of revelations and one big surprise, there are family tangles to pick apart (odd couplings and adoptions); a touch of the supernatural as dead mothers speak; vendettas (one involving a government agent); a B-screamer interlude with Charlotte trussed to a bottling conveyer belt; and, of course, the happy romantic union. As ever, Wood (The Prophetess, 1996, etc.) shows herself a wizard at juggling action and romance, maintaining the momentum and sparkle of both. Bright, slick, and pleasing.

Pub Date: March 4th, 1998
ISBN: 0-316-81653-1
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1998


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