26 Jan 2022


 That this book was received for World Book Night, a scheme that was stopped for individuals to apply to   here in the UK several years ago now, shows how long this has sat on my TBR mountain begging to be read. 


Paul Leibovitz - once a successful journalist, loving father and father - is bereft and alone after the death of a child. But following a chance encounter in Hong Kong with fellow American Elizabeth, whose son has disappeared, Paul decides to investigate. Along with with a detective friend, he risk everything and crosses the border to mainland china, there descending into the criminal underworld where he must confront the dark secrets and corruption hidden beneath the veneer and wealth of new China. ... Back Cover Blurb

He was a small child. ... First Sentence {Prologue}

The provincial government had given him a meager allowance. In his jacket pocket was an envelope with five twenty-dollar bills; they had provided him with a dark blue suite, but it did not fit him, unusually tall as he was for a Chinese man from Sichuan. The sleeves of his jacket did not even reach his wrists, and the trousers did not touch his ankles. They had not provided him with shoes in his size at all. His old footwear was so worn out that he would have preferred to go barefoot. He had barely noticed all this when departing from Beijing, but now he could not fail to see it. In these clothes he cut a ridiculous figure. ... Memorable Moment {Page 133}

MY THOUGHTS ... The first book in the Rising Dragon trilogy, I'm afraid that to say this book did not do it for me is something of an understatement. The only remotely interesting aspect being the exploration of Hong Kong in the years leading up to its return to China.

First but by no mean's least there were so, so many things that had me exclaiming 'Hmm! Really!'; too many to mention but as an example ...

💭 Despite the fact that, bereft after the death of his son , he's all but given up on life in order to grieve, Paul {Leibovitz}, after a chance encounter the day previously, is persuaded by a complete stranger {Elizabeth} to help her and her husband in the search for their 'child'. 

Hmm! Really!

Arguably understandable IF the circumstances were familiar {as it is Paul's son died of leukaemia, Elizabeth's 'child' has disappeared}, that IF Elizabeth's 'child' had been a child like Paul's and not 30.

💭Then, {bearing in mind that at this point in the book we are not even sure who exactly 'she' is as thus far she has only been referred to as 'she'} there was the fact that despite his only having met her, she having got wet, {and I quote} 'followed him into the house, up to the first floor, took off her wet clothes, had a hot shower as he had advised her to ...' {Pg 38}. 

Hmm! Really! Pretty incredulous or is that just me?

That aside, not characters I could engage with in general ...

Something of a 'white saviour', his whiteness gaining him unquestioned access to certain echelons of society {possibly the only realistic part of the story no matter how unpalatable it might be}, though of course he's far too much, what, noble? polite? to express some of the  latent racism {often in the form of racial stereotypes} that abounds.

Seemingly bereft after the death of his son ... except when it came to what read like him stringing along a lovelorn local woman {the 'she' referred to earlier}. But then, well, this is only to be expected given how we are constantly informed that females fall at his feet, that scantily clad women {the younger ones at least} 'stretched themselves as soon as they saw Paul, or thrust their breasts out at him briefly' {pg 61} ...

Paul was my least favourite; why he was was chosen as the main protagonist over Zhang {his Chinese police detective friend and a far more well rounded character} being by far the biggest mystery.

That the novel {translated into English from its original German, something that may or may not have had an impact} wasn't particularly well executed, that the epilogue was, to me at least, ridiculously OTT ... Hmm! as I said alas this book just wasn't too my liking.


Literary Feline said...

That does sound bad. I think I will skip this one.

DMS said...

So sorry your didn't enjoy this one more. Your honest review is much appreciated. Thanks for sharing.

Kelly said...

I'm sorry this one was such a bust for you, but I'll admit that it can be entertaining reading a negative review. I hope your next book is/was better.

No, I don't think this one will be going on my wishlist.

nightwingsraven said...

I am taking all of your criticism
and objections against this book
to heart. And I doubt that I would
appreciate it.
As always,thank you for your honest
and excellent review.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

It is so refreshing to read a totally honest and negative review of a book, I'll bet it was liberating to set pen to paper with this one! That's the beauty of reviewing without the shackles of a Blog Tour to negotiate :)

Luckily I am quite selective with the books I choose to read for Blog Tour Reviews, so within reason I know there are going to be no massive misses. It is a little annoying though, when even if you have enjoyed a book, but there is perhaps one tiny niggle, you just can't mention it, because you might upset the author's sales. The whole idea of getting an ARC copy is to provide an honest review - but only when it is 5 stars!!

I was quite liking the sound of this premise and normally I might decide to try a book for myself if someone else wasn't enthralled with it. But seeing that your comments were so objective about what the failings of this story were, I am going to give it a wide berth! :) :)