cover image Shanghai


Joseph Kanon. Scribner, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-1-6680-0642-9

In this superbly written WWII espionage thriller, Edgar winner Kanon (The Berlin Exchange) introduces Daniel Lohr, a German Jew who escapes 1938 Berlin for Shanghai, the only port city that doesn’t require an entry visa. On the journey there, Daniel’s unexpected liaison with fellow passenger Leah Auerbach is overshadowed by a close call with Colonel Yamada, an officer in the dreaded Japanese military police and a close ally of the Nazis. When Daniel arrives in Shanghai, he takes refuge with his uncle, Nathan, who operates a casino and a jazz club while steadily expanding his partnership with Chinese mob bosses across the city. After surviving a gang-related ambush that nearly kills Nathan, Daniel rises to prominence in Shanghai’s criminal underworld. However, his obsession with Leah and hatred of Yamada threaten to undermine him as he navigates the combined perils of Shanghai’s German-allied Japanese occupation, the city’s ballooning gang violence, and the psychological pressures of his own refugee status. From the opening paragraph, it’s clear readers are in expert hands: Kanon writes with a master’s touch, flexing his gift for atmosphere and crafting characters who seem capable of walking off the page and taking a seat next to the reader. With pulse-pounding suspense, top-shelf dialogue, and a palpable evocation of its period setting, this is as good as crime fiction gets. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM Partners. (June)