"Having her own detective agency would give her
the independence she had always longed for. It
would also give her the chance to show those people
who shunned her that she could be successful. People
were getting rich. They owned property, money,
business, and cars. With new freedom and opportunities
came new crimes. There would be much that
she could do."
Present day, Beijing. Mei Wang is a modern, independent woman. She has her own apartment. She owns a car. She has her own business with that most modern of commodities -- a male secretary. Her short career with China's prestigious Ministry for Public Security has given her intimate insight into the complicated and arbitrary world of Beijing's law enforcement. But it is her intuition, curiosity, and her uncanny knack for listening to things said -- and unsaid -- that make Mei Beijing's first successful female private investigator.
Mei is no stranger to the dark side of China. She was six years old when she last saw her father behind the wire fence of one of Mao's remote labor camps. Perhaps as a result, Mei eschews the power plays and cultural mores -- guanxi -- her sister and mother live by...for better and for worse.
Mei's family friend "Uncle" Chen hires her to find a Han dynasty jade of great value: he believes the piece was looted from the Luoyang Museum during the Cultural Revolution -- when the Red Guards swarmed the streets, destroying so many traces of the past -- and that it's currently for sale on the black market. The hunt for the eye of jade leads Mei through banquet halls and back alleys, seedy gambling dens and cheap noodle bars near the Forbidden City. Given the jade's provenance and its journey, Mei knows to treat the investigation as a most delicate matter; she cannot know, however, that this case will force her to delve not only into China's brutal history, but also into her family's dark secrets and into her own tragic separation from the man she loved in equal parts.
The first novel in an exhilarating new detective series, The Eye of Jade is both a thrilling mystery and a sensual and fascinating journey through modern China.
Chinese exile Liang, who fled her country after participating in the Tiananmen Square protests, makes an impressive debut with this understated mystery set in the late 1990s, the first in a prospective series. After resigning from the ministry of public security, Mei Wang launches a private investigative agency, a technically illegal business in China, much to her family's dismay. After an old family friend, "Uncle" Chen Jitian, hires Mei to track down a jade seal from the Han dynasty, previously believed to be destroyed, Mei and her assistant, Gupin, follow slim leads to a shady dealer who might have connections to the same museum collection supposedly incinerated by the Red Guard. Readers familiar with Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs will find many parallels between that independent and unconventional PI and Mei. Mei's challenging family life nicely complements the puzzle of the missing jade and the shifting Chinese political climate.