Ceremony of Innocence

Humphrey Hawksley, Author Headline Book Publishing $24.95 (310p) ISBN 978-0-7472-2113-5
Packed with authentic detail, though at times overly theatrical in its rhetoric, this cautionary debut thriller is by the BBC's China correspondent, an expert on Asian affairs (Dragonstrike: The Millennium War). The hero is Scottish-born Mike McKillop, once a respected Hong Kong cop and now a bureaucratic figurehead police superintendent, who is wallowing in alcoholic self-pity. He has been living alone since his Chinese-born wife took their two children and disappeared into the Chinese mainland; at work, his boss is evil Li Tuo, who, 13 years ago, murdered McKillop's best friend. In Beijing for an international conference on corruption, McKillop receives a call from Clem Watkins, a CIA pal he hasn't seen since the night his friend was slain. Watkins warns him that there is something amiss at Heshui, a secret missile base near the Korean border. McKillop meets with Watkins; immediately afterward, the agent is nearly leveled by a burst of gunfire. Soon after, Scott Carter, a young CIA operative, is murdered in Hong Kong while making routine contact with a Korean agent. Promised a reunion with his wife, McKillop's defenses drop and he lets himself be convinced that Ling Chen, Carter's Yale-educated Chinese lover, is the killer. But when he discovers beyond a doubt that Ling has been set up, he finds himself rescuing her and fleeing for his life. At times the plot is slowed by needless rambling and introduction of gratuitous characters, but the gradual unveiling of a diabolical secret complex at Heshui keeps suspense levels high. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 08/03/1998
Release date: 08/01/1998
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 406 pages - 978-0-7472-5903-9
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