CHINA WHITE by Peter Maas
Kirkus Star

CHINA WHITE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Chinese crime lords bring a bumper crop of trouble to a reluctant young lawyer and his FBI squeeze in this intricate, compulsively readable thriller by nonfiction veteran Maas (Serpico, 1973, etc.). Tony Manhattan law firm Needham & Lewis needs a few lucrative clients to boost its sagging revenues. One possibility is billionaire Y.K. Deng, who wants a hedge against his native Hong Kong's uncertain economic future. To land this big fish, the firm hires as bait young Tom MacLean -- whose father, a former CIA agent, worked beside Deng during the 1960s. Unbeknownst to Tom, Deng, besides sitting on many corporate boards, is also a Dragon's Head, leader of one of the secret criminal orders that control vice throughout Asia. His hand helps turn the spigot controlling the flow of heroin, or China White, from the jungle factories of Laos to the West. Having lauded what he thinks is a legitimate client, young Tom rolls up his sleeves and goes to work on Deng's aboveboard concerns, unaware that he and his firm are pawns in the bigger game of bringing in a few hundred million dollars worth of China White to help Deng make ends meet after relocation. Not quite so unaware is Shannon O'Shea, Tom's girlfriend and the FBI's point woman for gang activity in New York's Chinatown. Alerted to the possibility that something is fishy by uncharacteristically sloppy money-management techniques and infighting among Chinese criminal societies, Shannon battles to thwart Deng's plan, which has grown to include an unprecedented US distribution network, courtesy of La Cosa Nostra. Worth the price of admission alone is the explosive drug warehouse climax pitting Tom and Shannon against a ruthless gang of toughs. Reminiscent of both The Firm and Rising Sun, but Maas's great command of subject and reportorial storytelling style make this far more plausible than either. A terrific read.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1994
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster