A plastic bag containing three rotting heads is discovered near the Chinese mainland. The British seem to be keen for the investigation to drag on until after June 1997, the powerful Mr Xian wants a swift conclusion to the case, and the NYPD are taking a curious interest in events.A plastic bag containing three rotting heads is discovered near the Chinese mainland. The British seem to be keen for the investigation to drag on until after June 1997, the powerful Mr Xian wants a swift conclusion to the case, and the NYPD are taking a curious interest in events.Read Less
Publishers Weekly, 1997-01-06 Six million seconds are, in Burdett's second novel (after A Personal History of Thirst, 1995), all the time left until Hong Kong is subsumed by the People's Republic of China. Burdett means his book to be a scary cautionary tale as well as an enthralling thriller, and it is both. During the 10 weeks before June 30, 1997, Hong Kong Chief Inspector "Charlie" Chan Siu-kaiĉ33, half-Irish, half-Chineseĉattempts to solve a horrific triple murder. His investigation, which Burdett bolsters with much forensic detail (the victims were minced alive), takes Chan into an astonishingly complex power struggle over the future of Hong Kong waged by cynical British diplomats trying to hide the bloodstains on their three-piece suits, American mafiosi scheming to exploit a China ripe for anarchy and, most malevolently, a Chinese warlord planning to establish Hong Kong as his fiefdom, in part by purchasing a black-market A-bomb. It's a far-fetched scenario, but Burdett, who once practiced law in Hong Kong, lacquers it with the realism of intense local color and encyclopedic knowledge of the soon-to-be-former colony and its ways. His prose marches rather than flows, and a few of his characters verge on stereotype. But a strong and moral hero, intricate plotting, fierce dashes of violence and sex and, above all, the loomingĉif crassly portrayedĉmenace of Communist masters ("monsters who have been spawned by monsters to govern monsters") will keep readers attentive right through the novel's bitter conclusion. Film rights sold to 20th Century-Fox for $1 million. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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