cover image Everything Under the Sky

Everything Under the Sky

Matilde Asensi, , trans. from the Spanish by Lisa Carter. . HarperCollins, $25.95 (387pp) ISBN 978-0-06-145841-5

Straitlaced Spanish painter Elvira De Poulain confronts massive debt—and mortal danger—in freewheeling 1920s Shanghai in her efforts to sort out her murdered husband's messy affairs in this fast-paced if farfetched thriller from Asensi (The Last Cato ). The only hope for Elvira and her sulky teenage niece, Fernanda, is to decipher the clues in an antique chest the killers failed to find, and to beat them to the mythic lost treasure buried 2,000 years earlier with China's first emperor. The desperate quest takes these improbable Indiana Janes on a cross-country race that showcases both the Spanish author's meticulous historical research and her skill at interweaving it into her suspenseful narrative. While the ladies' traveling companions, including an aristocratic Chinese antiquarian and a genius servant boy, lend interest, some readers may find the two protagonists, despite the personal growth gained as they rise to various challenges, less than fully engaging. (Oct.)