Written by Lisa Brackman

Review written by Sara Townsend

Sara-Jayne Townsend is a published crime and horror writer and likes books in which someone dies horribly. She is founder and Chair Person of the T Party Writers’ Group. http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com/

Soho Press
RRP: £18.99
Released: 4th July 2013

Former soldier Ellie McEnroe is a twenty-something American ex-pat living in Beijing, where she has set up a pretty good life for herself representing controversial Chinese artist Zhang Jianli – even though Zhang’s mysterious disappearance over a year ago has brought her to the attention of the Chinese authorities, and her religious, love-starved mother came to visit some while ago and shows no signs of leaving.

When an army buddy asks for her help in tracking down his missing brother, Ellie jumps at the chance to escape Beijing (and her mother) for a while.  But Ellie gets more than she bargained for when her excursion to rural China embroils her in a conspiracy involving eco-terrorists, a corrupt biotech company and a lot of cats…

Part crime thriller part travelogue, there is a keen sense of place in these books.  Ellie’s experience of China as an ex-pat and single Western woman comes across as being real and refreshingly honest.  This is no tourist guide – this is a “warts and all” view of China that relays both its beauty and its ugliness.

Ellie McEnroe also comes across as being a realistic and flawed character.  Still recovering from a serious leg injury she suffered whilst fighting in Iraq, Ellie pops pain killers constantly and drinks rather a lot of beer (often both at the same time).  She’s cynical and snarky, carrying around a great deal of emotional baggage that she persistently avoids facing up to, and her inability to leave alone issues that don’t really concern her get her in a lot of trouble.  And yet in spite of her flaws – or maybe because of them – I found myself liking her.  She feels like a real person, and I found her sarcasm and biting humour refreshing.

This is the second book in a series about Ellie McEnroe but I came to it without any prior knowledge of the first book, and I think it stands alone as it is.  I for one very much enjoyed meeting Ellie McEnroe, and I look forward to reading future books about her.

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