In Flower Net, Lisa See rips the veil away from modern China- its venerable culture, its teeming economy, its institutional cruelty- and highlights the inextricable link between China’s fortunes and America’s. This is a Gorky Park for our time, a complex, suspenseful, beautifully written novel in which a Chinese cop and an American attorney pair up to uncover the deadly conspiracy of Chinese gangs, government, and big business that lies behind a series of high-profile murders.
In the depths of a Beijing winter, during the waning days of Deng Xiaoping’s reign, the U.S. ambassador’s son is found dead- his body entombed in a frozen lake. Almost simultaneously, American officials find a ship adrift in the storm-churned waters off Southern California. No one is surprised to find the fetid hold crammed with hundreds of undocumented Chinese immigrants- the latest cargo in the Chinese mafia’s burgeoning smuggling trade. What does surprise Assistant U.S. Attorney David Stark is his discovery that among the hapless refugees lies the corpse of a Red Prince, a scion of China’s political elite.
The Chinese and American governments suspect that the deaths are connected, and in an unprecedented move they join forces to solve this cross-cultural crime. Stark heads for Beijing to team up with police detective Liu Hulan, whose unorthodox methods are tolerated only because of her spectacular investigative abilities. Their investigation carries them (and the reader) into virtually every corner of today’s China- from its glitzy karaoke bars, where the nation’s new elite cuts deals, to the labyrinthine hutongs, where ordinary Beijingers have lived and died for centuries.
Stark and Liu’s search leads them from the Chinese capital to Los Angeles’ thriving Asian community and turns up a bloodthirsty murderer at the very apex of China’s power structure. Their work together also ignites their passion for each other- a passion forbidden by their respective governments and one that plays right into the hands of a serial killer.
Flower Net was a national bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book, and a nominee for the Edgar Award for best first fiction.
“If you have…an appreciation for atmospheric, tightly plotted suspense stories, Flower Net is a treat. Lisa See begins to do for Beijing what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did for turn-of-the-century London or Dashiell Hammett did for 1920s San Francisco: She discerns the hidden city lurking beneath the public façade.”
Washington Post Book World
“A graceful rendering of two different and complex cultures, within a highly intricate plot…The starkly beautiful landscapes of Beijing and its surrounding countryside are depicted with a lyrical precision that…[comes] from a deeply abiding connection to the land and its peoples. Also vivid, exact, without any cloying traces of exoticism, are See’s descriptions of the strangely lit neon shops and streets of L.A.’s Chinatown.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Colorful…She has done her homework…Hulan is a provocative mix of vulnerability, bitterness and hardheaded practicality.”
New York Times Book Review
“A thriller with… chase scenes, multiplying bodies, layered conspiracies, and revealed villains. Finish Flower Net and you want to book a flight overseas…A wonderful lesson about changes going on in China as it emerges as a global economic power.”
“High voltage sexual sparks…Murder and intrigue splash across the canvas of modern Chinese life…A vivid portrait of a vast Communist nation in the painful throes of a sea change…”
“This debut thriller is a standout…Complex and exciting…See adds an understanding of subtle and complex Sino-American political and social differences, typifies these qualities in a range of well-crafted characters and tops it all with a suspenseful plot. Cleverly confounds reader’s expectations.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Compelling…Proclaims See’s considerable talents as a novelist, skillfully blending suspenseful storytelling, romantic intrigue, and stirring plot twists.”
“An impressive and welcome debut…It has been sixteen years since Gorky Park raised the ante in the game of international thriller novels. Now, Lisa see comes to the table to raise the stakes even higher.”
“An unusual and highly successful thriller…In this, her first novel, Lisa See brings a cool, knowing eye to Chinese-American relations while crafting a nifty story of suspense.”
“An ambitious and engaging mystery…expertly plotted and enriched with rare social, political and historical complication…See has crafted an exceptional narrative, one that tweaks the reader into long hours under the lamp.”
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