Formosa Straits

Anthony Hyde, Author
Anthony Hyde, Author Alfred A. Knopf $23 (241p) ISBN 978-0-679-44039-0
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995
Mass Market Paperbound - 341 pages - 978-0-449-22576-9
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-449-22654-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-345-39268-8
Hardcover - 978-0-517-17417-3
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Hyde (China Lake) publishes rarely--this is only his third novel in 10 years--and it's easy to see why so much time passes between books. An expert craftsman, he makes every word count, carefully constructing memorable characters and, here, a Chinese puzzle box whose innermost chamber holds a politically explosive secret. At the same time, Hyde can tell a ripping tale. This one plunges into intrigue at once, as narrator Nick Lamp retreats from the corpse he's just discovered: the body of Cao Dai, Taiwan's top gangster but an old family friend, shot dead. As businessman Nick goes on the run to escape arrest by overzealous Taiwanese cops as well as possible retribution from Cao Dai's powerful family, his mixed ancestry of a Chinese father and American mother prompts in him many lengthy but always penetrating musings on Chinese mores and ways. Soon, Nick realizes that the key to the killing and to his safety lies in an old photo taken in Shanghai, of several revelers including his father--and Mao's last wife. Able to trust no one except, maybe, his American girlfriend, Nick wends a violent way toward the mainland and that city (as travelogue alone this novel soars) and toward revelations tied through intricate knots to the balance of world power. The final pages serve Nick a fate so poetically just that it rings false, but that's the only significant flaw in this otherwise unusually intelligent and finely wrought thriller. (July)
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