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Crime and soap Down Under

By Linda Schoales, editor

Apr 8, 2009: My first impression was that “China Wind” was going to be an Australian romance novel in the style of Danielle Steele, with lots of rich people throwing lavish parties and jetting off to exotic locales, and beautiful women competing for the attention of rich, powerful men. Then we found out that Carol Monk, one of the main characters, was a Private Investigator and I decided that this was going to be a romantic suspense or detective novel. Unfortunately, after 10 chapters we still don’t have a body but the author has added a police investigation into gun-smuggling and Chinese gangs, industrial politics in a Pacific Rim corporation, and the transfer of Hong Kong to China.

There are a lot of subplots and characters to keep track of in this story. It’s difficult keeping the names, ranks and relationships straight. This may be because so far most of the characters are rather flat. The author describes them in a lot of detail, but we don’t get much about their personality except what we get from their job. The police officers play Good Cop/Bad Cop, the company president is suave and diplomatic, and the secretary is efficient and polite. They all seem to be related to each other, sleeping together, or at least known to each other. The best-developed character is a beautiful, gold-digging woman who has been sleeping her way to the top of Society. Wanda comes across as a stereotype but she is memorable. More so than Carol Monk who pretty much vanished after “starring” in the prologue and first chapter.

So far the story feels more like a soap opera than a drama or mystery. There hasn’t been much action other than arguments, interrogations, and people discussing scandals and politics. The pace is slow, with a lot of anguished internal dialog from each character, and extraneous description of each person, location, building or vehicle. Everyone and everything gets at least one, if not two, adjectives. It’s a bit flowery for what seems to be heading towards a detective or industrial espionage story. Here’s an example:

“Her slim, graceful body was poured sensually into a full-length jade silk evening dress, her long black hair piled in artistic folds on top of her perfect head. A heavy gold necklace showed richly against the dark apricot of her skin, and gold and jade hoops hung from her small, neat ears. “

“China Wind” is a rather flowery novel set in Hong Kong, Australia and China among the very rich and powerful of Society. The main concerns seem to be who is sleeping with whom, who is smuggling guns into Hong Kong, and how this is all related to the transfer of Hong Kong to China. It’s a broad canvas with a lot of characters, intrigues and subplots. If you miss “Dynasty” or “Dallas”, you might enjoy reading this.

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