cover image Take No Names

Take No Names

Daniel Nieh. Ecco, $28.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-288667-5

At the start of Nieh’s taut sequel to 2019’s Beijing Payback, Victor Li, who’s living under an alias in Seattle, accepts a job offer from Mark Knox, who says he runs “Logistical Solutions. Number One in the Seattle Area for Making Things Run Smoothly.” Actually, Knox is a crook who specializes in breaking into storage facilities to steal valuable items. During one such burglary, Li finds a puzzle box containing another puzzle box, out of which drops “an oblong red stone” that looks like an uncut ruby. Li soon figures out it’s Painite, “the world’s rarest gem,” which Chinese extraction firms have been illegally mining in Myanmar. For the past year, Western countries have been boycotting Painite as a conflict stone since the Myanmar government began committing genocide against the Rakhine people in the region. That makes unloading the jewel complicated, and Li and Knox become enmeshed in a Chinese scheme to launder money and evade U.S. sanctions. Nieh makes the complex plot elements fit together while engendering sympathy for his morally compromised lead. Fans of Glen Erik Hamilton’s Van Shaw books will be hooked. Agent: Bonnie Nadell, Hill Nadell Literary. (July)