cover image The Nine Dragons: A Novel of Hong Kong, 1997

The Nine Dragons: A Novel of Hong Kong, 1997

Justin Scott. Bantam Books, $20 (457pp) ISBN 978-0-553-07329-4

Ten-time novelist Scott ( Widow of Desire ) creates a highly detailed, intellec tually fascinating novel of wheeling and dealing among European expatriates in Hong Kong. As the 1997 ``Turnover'' of Hong Kong from Britain to the People's Republic of China approaches, Victoria Mackintosh, heir to Scottish trading firm Mackintosh Farquhar, is caught up in the efforts of her father, Duncan, to help Tang, a pro-capitalism Chinese reformer hoping to take power as premier. Duncan has key evidence of wrongdoing against Two-Way Wong, a Chinese businessman seeking economic and political control of the city through his connections to the hardliner premier Chen. But Duncan is killed; in his will he leaves the company in joint charge of Vicky and Vivian Loh, his mistress. Ignoring shrewd Vivian's advice, Vicky jumps into new business deals and begins a risky affair with Wong's playboy son Steven. That liaison leads to a confrontation with Two-Way against the backdrop of the increasing chaos in Hong Kong society. Vivian, lost in the novel's middle, reappears when needed as the countdown to Turnover ends. Intricate political and business details, skillfully interwoven with somewhat slim plot developments, add interest to an otherwise undistinguished narrative. (May)