Summary and book reviews of The Jasmine Trade by Denise Hamilton

The Jasmine Trade

A Novel of Suspense Introducing Eve Diamond

By Denise Hamilton

The Jasmine Trade
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    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Jul 2001,
    281 pages.
    Paperback: Dec 2002,
    352 pages.

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Book Summary

Everything was set. Seventeen-year-old Marina Lu had even ordered custom-made gowns for the ten bridesmaids who, in several months' time, would have preceded her down the aisle at her storybook wedding.

There isn't going to be a wedding. Marina lies dead, alone in her shiny status car in a suburban shopping center parking lot, her two-carat diamond engagement ring refracting another abruptly shattered Los Angeles dream. Was her death merely a carjacking gone bad? Or is there more to the story?

Marina's murder chillingly introduces Los Angeles Times reporter Eve Diamond to a subculture of "parachute kids," the rich Asian teens who are left to their own devices in California while their parents live and work in Hong Kong. Seeking American education and political stability for their children, the affluent parents often leave only an elderly housekeeper in charge of their vulnerable offspring.

What was Marina's story? Why was she, at such a young age, marrying twenty-four-year-old Michael Ho? Why is Marina's father, banker Reginald Lu, so reluctant to provide information? As Eve delves deeper into the mysteries surrounding Marina's life and death, she stumbles upon a troubled world of unmoored youth and parental neglect.

But Marina, in many ways, would seem to have been among the fortunate. She had money and her parents had power. Eve soon discovers a dramatically more tragic subculture, where destitute young Asian immigrants live in virtual sexual slavery. The story of May-li and her journey from a poor farming home in Fujian, China, to a brothel in Los Angeles is one that Eve will fight to tell and will never forget.

A moving, noir-accented crime novel that opens a rare window to an intriguing subject, The Jasmine Trade is a passionate and polished debut from an exciting new author.

Chapter 1

I heard the ring through fuzzy sleep. Groaning, I opened one eye and groped for the receiver. "Hello?"

"Hel-lo, Eve Diamond," said a cheerful voice on other line. "Miller here."

My editor was oblivious to, or else ignoring, my sleep-logged voice at ten in the morning, a time when most reporters were already at their desks, rustling through the daily paper and midway through a second cup of coffee. I swallowed, and tasted chardonnay, now a sour reminder of last night's excess.

"...slumped in her new Lexus, blood all over the place, right there in the parking lot of Fabric World in San Gabriel," Miller was saying. "Guess the bridesmaids won't be wearing those dresses any time soon."

I cleared my throat.

"Can I have that address again, my pen stopped working."

"Why, suuure," he said. "Hold on, let me see what the wires are saying."

I would hold forever for Matt Miller. He was my hero, known and loved throughout the paper as a decent human being, a ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Booklist

This is Hamilton's first novel, and it shows a little everything comes together too easily in the end, and the climax seems stagey and overplayed, like a gunfight in an old western movie. What does work--and work very well--is the author's thoughtful, eye-opening look at a new version of a destructive, ongoing social evil kids joining gangs to find family.

Kirkus Reviews

Hamilton's first novel is a furiously boiling stew of familiar ingredients it lacks Edna Buchanan's eye for the offbeat story but is spiced by an unflinching look at dysfunctional families, upscale-Asian-American style.

Publishers Weekly

In addition to a gripping story and keen observations about contemporary Los Angeles, she also offers an undeniably winning narrator.

Author Blurb Barry Martin, Book 'em Mysteries, South Pasadena, CA
When Marina Lu is found bloodied in her new Lexus in an exclusive L.A. suburb, reporter Eve Diamond is assigned the story. Eve discovers the world of 'parachute kids,' children of wealthy absentee Asian parents set up in palatial homes near the best high schools. These kids work hard at school during the day and play lavishly at night. A remarkable first suspense novel, masterfully plotted, carefully researched and daring in its look behind the new Asian curtain.

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