4 out of 4 stars
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It all began on the night that George Hu consumed too much beer. Drunk and depressed, he complained bitterly to a friend about the demands of his family's membership in a secret program requiring loyalty to China and its Communist Party. Unfortunately, George's friend was also a close friend of Curtis Beecham, a freelance writer who aspired to write a best-selling novel. Curtis thought George's situation would make a terrific plot for his book.
A publisher in New York City liked the novel that Curtis wrote but first checked the plot's plausibility with a colleague at China Gate Publishing. Alas, this colleague was an informer for Lin Fongveh, an agent for China's Ministry of State Security (MSS). Lin Fongveh shared what he had learned with Deng Qin, the MSS agent in Seattle. Unaware that one of his local contacts was supplying information about MSS activities to the FBI, Deng Qin set out to prevent publication of the book.
By the time this network of friendships, contacts, and informers finished its work, Curtis was on the run from both Chinese and FBI agents, struggling to understand who was chasing him and why. Deaths and disappearances ensued as Curtis teamed up with George's sister to find her missing brother, put a stop to the exploits of the MSS spies, and stay clear of the FBI agents.
One of the best elements of Sons of the Red Dragon is its robust sense of place. Although it begins in China, the story quickly moves to Seattle, a major port for shipping between Asia and North America and home to the Hu family as well as many other Chinese immigrants. Readers can experience living aboard a houseboat on Lake Union, escaping attackers on Bainbridge Island, finding clues in a downtown warehouse, breaking into a container terminal, and other similarly exhilarating waterfront activities.
Another outstanding feature is the dexterity with which the author, Mardi Lynn Roselius, weaves together the many plot threads of this exciting thriller. Curtis Beecham provides much of the narration, but most of the other main characters also participate in telling the story, each in his or her own unique style. The author shifts deftly among the various points of view, allowing the reader to know exactly what is happening and why. The pacing, too, is excellent, building gradually as each new character comes on stage, then picking up speed.
There is much to like and nothing to dislike about Sons of the Red Dragon. It is well edited and has everything a fan of spy novels could want: suspense, action, plot twists, intriguing characters, and a wonderful setting. For this reason, it merits four out of four stars. Anyone who appreciates exciting adventure stories would enjoy this book. However, readers sensitive to erotic material might wish to be cautious. In one scene, the performance of a transvestite stripper is described at length and in vivid detail.
Sons of the Red Dragon
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