Flower Net (2009)
Liu Hulan is a detective for the Ministry of Culture in Beijing. When a body is found frozen in a lake, she is called out to investigate. When the body is discovered to be the son of the US Ambassador, the case takes the direction the Ambassador wants, regardless of Liu’s suspicions. David Stark is an Assistant US Attorney in California who is obsessed with taking down the triads. When a ship that is most likely carrying illegal immigrants crosses into US waters, David joins the FBI agents who go out to secure the ship. A discovery there may be tied to the death in Beijing, and so for the first time in years a joint investigation between China and the US, with David Stark and Liu Hulan is set into motion.
Although some of the book is set in California, much takes place in China, and Lisa See does a very good job of making that land both alien and fascinating.
One good sign for the book was that I was drawn into it very quickly. I liked the characters, and the mystery fascinated me, so I wanted to keep reading to follow the twists and turns to the end.
I found the discovery of the characters and their past to be particularly well done. We know Liu has a past, but the depth and complexity of that past took almost the entire book to unravel, yet when it did, many seemingly inexplicable events made perfect sense.
Some of the crimes and bodies discovered are quite gruesome, and there is some sex, so I’m not entirely sure whether my grandmother will like this book or not, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and highly recommend it.
The Interior (1999)
Liu Hulan is still in China working for the Ministry of Public Security–and pregnant with an unsanctioned child, when she receives a letter from a woman she hadn’t heard from in years, asking her to come look into the death of her daughter.
David Stark is back in the US and at loose ends after tying up the Rising Phoenix case and trying to figure out how he and Hulan are going to work things out. When an friend is killed in what looks to be an attempt at David’s life, he considers going back into private practice–especially when that practice may take him back to China.
The story as a bit slow to take off, and spent a lot of time with Suchee, Liu Hulan’s friend from the time she spend in the country side. The view of the countryside was both fascinating and depressing: the harsh living conditions, the effects of the one child policy, the conditions in American factories and how the workers are treated.
Yet I still found Liu Hulan and Beijing and the Ministry of Public Security to more fascinating than events in the countryside.