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Chen Jing-nan is reunited with his uncle, colorful Taiwanese gangster Big Eye, just in time to get saddled with an impossible task.

Families typically come together during Taiwan’s Mid-Autumn Festival, but that’s not why Big Eye is reaching out to Jing-nan. His daughter, Mei-Ling, has all the anti-authoritarian habits of other 16-year-old girls plus one that puts her over the top: her romance with Chong, whom Big Eye hates not because he’s a petty criminal—Big Eye is surrounded by those—but because he’s a “darkie” from Indonesia. Since Mei-Ling refuses to give him up, her father has resolved to exile her to Taipei so that Jing-nan, assisted by Big Eye lieutenants Gao Min-kung and Whistle, can keep a watchful eye on her from his perch at Unknown Pleasures, the skewer and stew stand he runs in the Shilin Night Market. For a while things go smoothly. Jing-nan wangles his cousin an internship with his high-powered ex-schoolmate Peggy Lee’s family firm. She shows real aptitude for the work—and evidence of musical gifts far greater than those of Nancy, Jing-nan’s girlfriend, who plays in the band Boar Pour More. Chong, when Jing-nan runs into him, seems to be an inoffensive guy who says it’s over between him and Mei-Ling anyway. But it’s only a matter of time before something goes wrong, and eventually something does, although genre fans on the hunt for mystery and suspense will have checked out long before then.

Readers who go the distance, recognizing Lin’s greater interest in worldbuilding than storytelling, will be rewarded, as in Ghost Month (2014), with a richly detailed insider’s tour of contemporary Taiwan.

Pub Date: Oct. 4th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-61695-733-9
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Soho Crime
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2016


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