LADY JADE by Leslie O'Grady


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An untidy but cheerful mystery-adventure--set in a Disneyland China circa 1890--by the author of the lively The Artist's Daughter (1979). ""Lady Jade"" is the moniker given to red-haired jade expert May Monckton by rascal Alex Wolders, a ""Dutchman"" of the Orient. And now--after her husband and lover have died by duel and suicide--scandal-tainted May flees to China, her childhood home, to be reunited with her widowed mother, feisty Margaret Fitzgerald (who tinkles with jade jewelry and peppers her speech with such exclamations as ""By the sword of Lu-Tung Pin!""). After a stay in Shanghai with old family friend Nelson Wright, a powerful merchant who employs Margaret to search out Chinese art objects, May and Margaret head for the interior. And along the way devilish Alex surfaces repeatedly--with constant fretting over shady doings with curios. May and Alex barely escape an ambush; May tiffs with Margaret over sneaky Eurasian Dinah, for whom Margaret has formed a curious motherly attachment; May desperately tries to save an old friend from a terrible execution; and, with an anti-foreign movement heating up, she returns to Shanghai. All the while May's in a passion about Alex, of course, and there's a lusty idyll in an exotic garden. But what, then, will she do when Alex is discovered in Dinah's opium-scented arms? Never fear. It is Alex, after all, who nips May from certain death in Nelson's warehouse (filled with stolen goodies) after the villain has spilled all. (Nelson's young son is kidnapped, and there's also the not-very-surprising unmasking of legendary thief Win-Lin.) O'Grady wobbles a bit between the thrust of packed adventure (too packed) and more leisurely character development. But, with a sprightly eccentric in Margaret--and without the usual rhetorical excesses of the genre--it's all pleasantly forthright.

Pub Date: Aug. 20th, 1981
Publisher: St. Martin's