cover image The Fireman: A Novel of Intrigue

The Fireman: A Novel of Intrigue

Stephen Leather. St. Martin's Press, $16.95 (303pp) ISBN 978-0-312-03831-1

A Hong Kong on edge about its scheduled reversion to Chinese rule in 1997 is the setting for much of this suspenseful mystery. The nameless narrator was a ``fireman,'' i.e., a trouble-shooting journalist who covers global hot spots; now, as a London crime reporter with a drinking problem, he flies to Hong Kong because his sister Sally's fall from a window, an official suicide, looks suspiciously like murder. The fireman realizes that his sister, an aggressive cub reporter, had just before her death been working on stories somehow implicating Chinese international gangs. Suspects include the married Chinese businessman whose mistress Sally had been and an American CIA type. Leather ( Pay Off ) has a marvelous eye for the bustle of Hong Kong and the deracinated world of overseas journalists. Although astute readers may guess who the killer is, the revenge wreaked upon him is sweet indeed. (Jan.)