American Ellie Cooper, deserted by her husband, has made a number of friends in China. But suddenly one of them disappears, and security organizations are hounding her for information. Contacted through an online role-playing game by a group claiming to be friends of Lao Zhang asking her for help, Ellie does the only thing she can - keep on playing.
Iraq vet Ellie Cooper is down and out in China, trying to lose herself in the alien worlds of performance artists and online gamers. When a chance encounter with a Muslim fugitive drops her down a rabbit hole of conspiracies, Ellie must decide who to trust among the artists, dealers, collectors and operatives claiming to be on her side in particular, a mysterious organization operating within a popular online game.
I’m living in this dump in Haidian Qu, close to
Wudaokou, on the twenty-first floor of a decaying high-rise.
The grounds are bare; the trees have died; the rubber tiles on
the walkways, in their garish pink and yellow, are cracked and
curling. The lights have been out in the lobby since I moved in;
they never finished the interior walls in the foyers outside the
elevator, and the windows are boarded up, so every time I step
outside the apartment door I’m in a weird twilight world of bare
cement and blue fluorescent light.
The worst thing about the foyer is that I might run into Mrs. Hua, who lives next door with her fat spoiled-brat kid. She hates that I’m crashing here, thinks I’m some slutty American who is corrupting China’s morals. She’s always muttering under her breath, threatening to report me to the Public Security Bureau for all kinds of made-up shit. It’s not like I ever did ...
Let's consider the requirements for the heroine of a modern day thriller: a painful incident in her recent past, residence in an exotic locale, a heightened ability to talk trash, and a complete inability to recognize danger as she walks right into it. Ellie Cooper has them all... any reader who doesn't mind the language and some gritty violence would not only be entertained but enlightened about a country that looms so prevalently in our current world.
(Reviewed by Judy Krueger).
Since the 2008 Olympics, China has become more of a tourist destination than ever. For those of us who haven't ventured that far, here is an overview of the cities where Ellie Cooper tried to elude her pursuers.
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