cover image 99 Ways to Die

99 Ways to Die

Ed Lin. Soho Crime, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-61695-968-5

At the start of Lin’s stellar third Taipei Night Market novel (after 2016’s Incensed), Jing-nan Chen, who “makes the best skewers and stews in the Shilin Night Market,” receives a distress call from high school classmate Peggy Lee. Peggy’s wealthy businessman father, Tommy Lee Tong-ming, “who controlled some of the most powerful tax-dodging entities in Taiwan” and is also Jing-nan’s landlord in the market, has been brazenly kidnapped at a banquet. Since a police escort was present, the Taipei PD is desperate to keep their embarrassing security lapse private. Peggy asks Jing-nan to get involved after the kidnappers demand the design for a “power-efficient mobile chip” that they insist is in her father’s files, despite her ignorance of its existence. Jing-nan reluctantly agrees to reach out to a relative with underworld connections as well as to his girlfriend’s former lover, a tech executive imprisoned for bribery who might know the design’s location. Jing-nan has three days to come up with results before the kidnappers’ deadline expires. Lin effortlessly blends humor, plausible plot twists, and the politics and economics of contemporary Taiwan. Agent: Kirby Kim, Janklow & Nesbit. (Oct.)