Today’s team review is from Joanna.
Joanna has been reading The Willow Woman by Laurence Westwood
This is the first in a planned series of books featuring Philip Ye, a Chinese homicide detective. The protagonist has a chequered past; he is a widower, half English and half Chinese, and his father is the disgraced ex-Mayor of Chengdu. Willow Woman focuses on a missing vulnerable boy and a body found in a back alley; two mysteries Ye tries to unravel against a highly political backdrop.
It is beautifully written, highly evocative of modern china and pulls no punches in exploring the cultural, political and spiritual elements of Chinese society. The plot itself is pleasingly complex and well-paced and I found myself burning the midnight oil, unable to put it down.
When I opened the book I was greeted by an extensive cast list of Chinese names which almost put me off, however Laurence Westwood breathes life into each of the main characters and they jump off the page and into your imagination: there’s the enigmatic Philip Ye; the deeply flawed and beautiful Prosecutor, Xu Ya; Fatty Deng her investigator and seriously oddball Constable Ma.
If there is any criticism, it is that the author occasionally overplays his knowledge of the Chinese political and criminal justice systems making for the occasional stodgy passages. Having said that I loved it and look forward to the next in the series.
Did I enjoy it, Yes
Would I recommend it, Yes.
Would I read it again, Yes.
Chengdu: a teeming, modern metropolis.
Yet China’s painful turbulent history still leaves its mark on the minds of all who live there.
Philip Ye, half English, half Chinese, is a homicide detective with the Chengdu Public Security Bureau who suffers his own anguish from a life blighted by tragedy and the unsettling appearance of ghosts that often intrude in on his investigations.
On a misty grey morning one such apparition leads him to a busy street corner during the rush hour where he bears witness to a shocking event. Against his better judgment, Phillip is drawn into the search for a missing, vulnerable boy. His investigation brings him into contact with Xu Ya, a brilliant and beautiful public prosecutor. She is new to Chengdu, determined not only to make her mark but to also leave behind her own personal heartbreak. They have crossed paths before. He has no memory of her, but she remembers him very well indeed….
Soon enough Philip Ye has a vicious murder on his hands, and then another – the boy’s disappearance seemingly sparking a chain of violent events. With the help of Xu Ya – dedicated to upholding făzhì, the Rule of Law, in China ‒ and her indefatigable and worldly-wise assistant Fatty Deng, Phillip Ye is quickly on the trail of a mysterious figure known as The Willow Woman. But, unbeknownst to them all, there are secretive and subversive forces at work within the dark heart of the city and tremendous danger awaits….