ArtView June 2014 - Page 41

by Duncan Jepson Review by Adam Dean this causes in the West, and the dire results that threaten to follow from cultural misunderstandings. The clash of Eastern and Western values is a major theme of the book. These conflicts are embodied in the character of Alex Soong. He has received a Western education, and his personal interests (in music, for example) reflect this. He is also very much a man who understands the The setting of this intriguing novel is a Hong Kong of the near future, in the year 2017. The plot is set in motion by the killing of two Methodist ministers – a crime that appears at first to be merely random. It falls to Detective Alex Soong to investigate. As more deaths follow, Soong unravels a conspiracy that involves vast economic and political forces, tied to momentous events in China’s past. enduring importance of China’s historical legacy. And he must straddle the fault line between the divergent values of Honk Kong, with its individualist outlook, and the well-ordered world of the Chinese mainland. Soong struggles to deal with his personal conflicts while coming to grips with the cultural clashes that have broken out with deadly results around him. The perpetrator of the crimes seeks to draw him in and make Soong a part of the conspiracy. The background to the crimes is a global economic crisis – China has bailed out a debt-ridden Europe, which has failed to honour its obligations. For some Chinese, this is seen as another in the list of Soong is used effectively as a character to bring to life the cultural conflicts and historical arguments, in a historical injustices they have suffered at the hands of the West. Brooding nationalist resentment becomes a driving force to put a deadly plot into effect. Emperors Once More is not only a fast-paced The author relies on his intimate knowledge of the city, where he lives and works, to give a richlydescribed portrayal of the Hong Kong setting. A diverse cast of minor characters adds to the depth of crime thriller with an exotic setting. The author skilfully interweaves the historical elements, as well as urgent questions of geopolitical evolution, with the well-constructed plot. The wider issues that it the portrait, and shows the effects of the conspiracy on all levels of society. The action unfolds with cinematic flair. Emperors Once More is an intelligent as well as considers are certainly timely and relevant to today’s world – issues such as the rise of China as a preeminent economic and global power, the anxieties that enjoyable book. It will leave readers with more to think about than a murder mystery. way that engages the reader – and without stalling the relentless hunt-for-a-killer plot.