4 out of 4 stars
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Desert Jade is a mystery suspense novel that takes place in Arizona, near the Mexico border. The story begins by following an intense situation of a coyote smuggler leading a group of people across the Mexico border, with hope for a better life in Tucson, only to be abandoned in a vast desert without food or water. The author, C.J. Shane, shares the different points of view from the migrants, the coyotes who take advantage of them, and the humanitarians who want to help them.
The story transitions back and forth from the reservation into Tucson where Private Investigator, Letty Valdez, has been trying to solve what happened to Jade’s husband, Carlos. He went missing soon after he obtained a $100,00 grant. There were no signs of what happened to Carlos or the money. She tries to find connections with the activities on the reservation and what is happening in Tucson. Valdez keeps reaching dead ends to this case until she runs into a detective from China, Zhou Ling Wei. Zhou is sent to Arizona to search for a Hong Kong official’s missing teenage daughter. As he begins his search, other women get abducted and he is determined to find them all before it is too late.
Zhou & Valdez work together to figure out what is happening in Tucson and the reservation. Is Carlos part of these crimes, was he also abducted, or did he just leave Jade once he obtained the cash? Will Jade ever move on with her new love interest or does she still hold on to the feeling that her husband is alive and in danger somewhere?
C.J. Shane does a great job of introducing characters and later connecting them all to each other. I was invested in every chapter to find out how everyone’s lives intersected. I was immediately engaged with this story and had trouble putting this book down. It is a seamlessly written fast read, full of twists to the mystery. The romance between the different characters is a nice break in between the intense parts where CJ Shane writes about the criminal world of a Mexican cartel and a Taiwanese triad gangs. I was not expecting the ending at all and was very entertained with how unpredictable this story is. You will be surprised even up until the last chapter.
Along with being an entertaining mystery suspense, this novel is very informative about different cultures and social groups. C.J. Shane’s knowledge of undocumented immigrants, the Chinese triad gangs, the cartels, the people who live on the reservations, human traffickers, drug dealers, and gun smugglers all made this a very unique mystery novel. She also cleverly writes dialogue in Chinese and Spanish that add to the tone of the predicaments that the characters were in. I rate this book a 4 out of 4 stars. I would not recommend this book to those who are uncomfortable reading about sexual violence against women, post-traumatic stress disorder of war veterans, and murders. The book is very well written with no editing errors. I became a fan of C.J. Shane’s engaging writing style and would like to read her other novels.
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