BAD TRAFFIC by Simon Lewis


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A police inspector from the Chinese provinces comes to England to find out what happened to his missing daughter in this greased-lightning series debut from Lewis (Go, 1999).

“Dad, help me,” pleaded Wei Wei before her last phone call home was cut off. Now her father, Inspector Jian, has torn himself loose from the Qitaihe Public Security Bureau, with its payoffs and mistresses, and come to Leeds University, where Wei Wei has been studying Tourism and Leisure. Except that she hasn’t: She dropped out of school four months ago, and her calls to him ever since then have been piffle. What can a Chinese cop with no authority and no English do to find a daughter who’s left behind so little trace? He can bluster; he can bully; he can spin his own lies (“My colleagues are following other lines of inquiry,” he tells one witness loftily). Mostly, though, he can watch out for details that don’t fit—even though nothing in this deeply foreign land seems to fit—and wait until he lucks into Ding Ming, an English-speaking peasant separated from his wife minutes after being smuggled into the country and terrified that his behavior has offended the smugglers. Together this unlikely duo breaks up a thriving immigration racket, but not before butting heads with every Chinese north of Kentish Town.

The best news is that Jian, whose scorching attitude tends to get buried beneath forgettable action sequences and the flashbacks that substitute for explanations, is set to return for an encore.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4165-9353-9
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2008