THE CHINAMAN by Stephen Leather


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Vietnamese guerrilla takes on the IRA in London and the Belfast countryside, by the author of 1989's slick, smooth, fast-paced The Fireman (1990). Nguyen Ngoc Minh, who owns DOUBLE HAPPINESS TAKE-AWAY, a Chinese fast-food shop in London, is just so patient with Scotland Yard's Antiterrorist Unit--and then takes matters into his own hands following the deaths of his wife and daughter in a department store that has been bombed by a renegade IRA team using a motorcycle packed with 25 pounds of Semex-H. Why doesn't Scotland Yard just arrest all the IRA members? he asks. After he gets no results from the police, Nguyen sells his restaurant, arms himself to the hilt, and sets out for Belfast and the suspected head of the terrorists responsible. Soon IRA blood is flying, and Nguyen plants bombs in cars, moves about the countryside like a shadow in camouflage, and traps Liam Hennessy, a Belfast lawyer whom Nguyen thinks is head man of the terrorists. But Hennessy denies responsibility and tries to throw the blame on others. Nguyen gives him three days to come up with the killers. Meanwhile, Nguyen's being tracked by Scotland Yard and also by an alcoholic reporter who sees the rehabilitation of his reputation in a firsthand story from Nguyen. The novel's richest moments come with Nguyen's modes of operation and with types of bomb-making, which Leather blueprints to a fare-thee-well. Ironically, Nguyen finds himself being tracked by a very capable IRA girl who can read his faintest tracks like headlines. The climax comes with a bomb planted in a British Airways plane. Strong suspense as bomber tracks bombers tracking bomber.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1992
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster