THE RED HOT EMPRESS by Meredith Blevins


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A madcap dash through San Francisco’s Chinatown and the crumbling Haight-Asbury district with a cast of bona fide eccentrics.

The trouble begins when Annie Szabo (The Hummingbird Wizard, 2003), now freelancing for The Eye, writes up her former mother-in-law, Mina the indomitable fortuneteller, and Mina’s new find, young Jimmy Qi, who “tones”—healing sick bodies by attuning their sounds to his own. The article draws the attention of Flora, an evangelical who sees Jimmy as a potential cash cow; the Duettes, a pair of mischievous twins; Dudley, late of the FBI, and Alan Lee, of Atlanta’s Center for Disease Control, who want him for government research; and Skip, who’d like Jimmy to translate dolphin talk. Off they go, killing one another to get hold of Jimmy, who has lost his uncle Hao to them and whose surviving uncle, Ike, may not survive much longer. Under Annie’s protection, Jimmy breaks into a crematorium, blows up Mina’s ramshackle Mystic Cafe and helps deliver a baby. There are chases, firecrackers, cell phone calls from the dead, punch-ups by Flora’s lover Wagner and Annie’s lover Leo, and a giant dragon snaking through Chinatown’s streets in the Year of the Monkey. It all turns out fine if you don’t put too much stock in logic.

At times the wackiness is forced, but the Annie-Mina repartee will have you howling, and everyone will want to adopt Jimmy.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-765-30781-2
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2005


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