Trade relations between the U.S. and China might be tense right now, but when it comes to solving a double murder, things have never been better. In Lisa See's transpacific thriller, The Flower Net
, Liu Hulan, an inspector for the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing teams up with her American counterpart and former lover, David Stark, to get to the bottom of two unusual deaths. The American ambassador's son has been found frozen in a lake just outside the Forbidden City; meanwhile, the corpse of a prominent Chinese businessman's son is found floating in a boat off the California coast. It's up to Hulan and David to unravel the tangled skein of circumstance that connects the two murders. Though David Stark may come off a tad stereotypical, Liu Hulan is a fascinating character--a woman who embodies both East and West and who has learned to keep her thoughts to herself as she navigates the treacherous waters of Chinese politics. And See's evocation of Beijing, right down to its old neighbourhoods and the smell in the air, is an added delight, making The Flower Net
an exotic distraction for a wintry afternoon.