Excerpt from The Crowning Circle by J.R. Lankford, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Crowning Circle

A Mystery Thriller

by J.R. Lankford

The Crowning Circle by J.R. Lankford X
The Crowning Circle by J.R. Lankford
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Paperback:
    Feb 2001, 385 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Shirley's dark eyes shone with mischief. She'd deliberately dressed to rub faces in her Viet heritage. Skeet didn't approve, but he understood. In spite of his dark skin and hair, Skeet looked out on the world through an unknown forebear's ghost-green eyes. Plainly, he was a mongrel, too.

He touched Shirley's nose, unplugged his car phone and locked it in the glove compartment. Then he opened the door and got out, patting his belt to make sure he hadn't brought his beeper. Since he didn't use a cell phone, there'd be no interruption to their lunch. He walked around the car, checking his jacket pocket for his mother's garnet ring. Passed down to her from two generations, she'd left it to Skeet when she died. It was there. Now all he had to do was hope his hunch was right, that he'd picked a sufficiently dramatic time and place to propose. Shirley would forgive him any misstep except a lack of flair.

As she took his arm and stepped from the car, he heard a loud buzzing overhead. They looked up, together, and saw a bright red biplane. Like a giant ferris wheel with a single carriage, it made slow, scarlet loops in the sky. Skeet realized it must be part of the Founder's Day Air Show he never attended. He'd experienced enough stunt flying as a teenage GI, dropped in and lifted out of Vietnam jungles.

Shirley said nothing as they stepped up on the curb. All their trips to Mai's were full of melodramatic silences. She let go of his arm and dropped back, following him past the red neon "Open" sign, lit even in daylight, under the scalloped awning, past the glass windows with their flower-patterned wooden lattices, painted peach, as if to welcome a Mekong breeze.

Skeet opened Mai's shuttered door for her. Inside they stood before two huge, ceramic pots planted with bamboo. Customers called it the bamboo gate. They called Mai's proprietor Aunt Nga.

A few steps more and they'd be inside the large room, hearing the sounds and seeing the sights of Vietnam.

Skeet looked back, ready to proceed with Shirley behind him like the traditional Vietnamese woman she was pretending to be. He saw her hesitate, look uncertain, then nod that she was ready. He went to Shirley and put his arm around her. Together they walked through the bamboo gate.

Inside the air smelled of incense burning. They heard the Sun Lute and the Moon Lute play. Above the click of chopsticks and murmured lunchtime conversation, a colorful bird called from its bamboo cage. Everywhere, salmon-colored tablecloths lay on finely-crafted oriental tables and on their tops flowers floated in ceramic bowls.

As they walked on clay tiles across the room, each table they approached fell silent. They neared a high ebony bureau, graced by a stone Buddha. Intricately carved, inlaid with mother-of-pearl reeds and cranes, the bureau held buffets when they were served.

Mr. Ngo Khai Minh, his wife and son, always sat by the bureau. They were Skeet's friends. Unlike Shirley, he was welcome here because he was a friend of Aunt Nga's. But, today, Mrs. Can Khai Minh's gaze flew down when she saw them. Mr. Minh senior briefly froze, a succulent bit of curried squid dangling in midair from his chopsticks. Mr. Minh junior, in the moment he gazed at Shirley, looked as if an angel had kissed his eyes. Then he awkwardly rose, his cheeks visibly red. As if shielding his mother, he transferred to the aisle seat next to her.

Skeet pretended he didn't see. He nodded vaguely in their direction and continued, feeling Shirley's elbow tremble beneath his hand. He knew her emotions had deep roots -- in anger at the Vietnamese parents who forbade their teenaged sons to speak to her in high school, in jealousy of the pure-blooded girls who were approved; in her mother's family's rejection. All because Shirley was bui doi -- the dust of life, only half of her Vietnamese. And later because she was a beautiful woman. By inciting desire, love and romance such women had the power to thwart traditionally arranged marriages. Vietnam's Confucian patriarchy was built on arranged marriage. Beautiful women, if inclined, could destroy their culture -- or so Aunt Nga's customers believed.

Copyright © J. R. Lankford February 2, 2001, Xlibris Corporation used by permission. All rights reserved. For permission to reproduce this excerpt, please visit www.NovelDoc.com/Lankford.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Honor
    Honor
    by Thrity Umrigar
    First Impressions readers enjoyed being transported to India via Thrity Umrigar's novel Honor, with ...
  • Book Jacket: What Storm, What Thunder
    What Storm, What Thunder
    by Myriam J. A. Chancy
    What Storm, What Thunder illuminates life in Haiti during and after the massive earthquake on ...
  • Book Jacket: Noor
    Noor
    by Nnedi Okorafor
    Noor's heroine goes by the moniker AO. Though officially this stands for her given name, Anwuli ...
  • Book Jacket: Five Tuesdays in Winter
    Five Tuesdays in Winter
    by Lily King
    Lily King's two recent novels Euphoria and Writers & Lovers could hardly be more different: one has ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
My Broken Language
by Quiara Alegría Hudes
A Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright tells her lyrical coming of age story in a sprawling Puerto Rican family.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Honor
    by Thrity Umrigar

    Bestselling author Thrity Umrigar tells the moving story of two Indian women and the courage they inspire in each other.

  • Book Jacket

    The Latinist
    by Mark Prins

    A page-turning exploration of power, ambition, and the intertwining of love and obsession.

Who Said...

Education is the period during which you are being instructed by somebody you do not know, about something you do ...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A P O B Y Houses

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.