A totally, captivating, and powerfully potent suspense thriller. The book is cleverly written with the emotions, lives and outcomes of all the main characters, interpreted and told through the eyes of the books’ main character, Pearl Zhang, the story sucks you in immediately.
We are introduced to the main character Pearl Zhang, a Mandarin Language Interpreter working with law enforcement and social service agencies in the United Kingdom. Pearl’s life is at a crossroads on professional and personal levels. Forced out of her previous successful career, Pearl has launched a new career for herself working closely with these agencies, all the while she is dealing with the pain of being recently separated from the love of her life, Husband Andrew.
Pearl’s separation, loneliness and self-doubts lead her into the arms of Detective Inspector Jack Gordon, a former military hero, but a similarly work obsessed character. Their steamy and seductive chemistry is only outdone by their own self doubts and loneliness, sharply brought into contrast, with the dramatic and sometimes graphic stories of the other characters in the book.
Kirk, uses Pearl’s character to narrate the story, and introduces the reader to the dark and painful world of human trafficking, where individual stories are sometimes heartbreaking and often frustrating in their outcomes, as public and private agencies fight, often valiantly, but often with little or no useful result, to help men, women, and children who have been kidnapped, tricked, or forced by violence; into a world they never wanted or can handle. Passionate and committed to her work, Pearl finds her involvement with these human stories intensely personal and leads her to question the motivations and morality of the Snakeheads(Traffickers), and how they can subject innocent helpless people, to such brutal and horrific treatment on every level.
Kirk, does a wonderful job of developing the book’s characters, showing the reader increasingly significant cracks in Pearl’s thoughts and feelings, the more she delves into the fascinating cast of characters created by the author. Pearl’s interaction and sense of personal responsibility and commitment for the truth, and assisting these helpless people sometimes; creates situations of powerful over-dependence by each character on Pearl, beyond her professional instincts.
It is often this mental and emotional battle between her professional role, and her personal moral and emotional uncertainty that provides; the most unexpected and shocking of consequences for the book’s characters and indeed, Pearl herself. The author has taken a very complex and challenging modern issue, and expertly treated it with a clear compassion and detailed understanding, enabling the reader to discover harsh realities of the brutal and often little addressed issue of human trafficking.
It is a book of extremes with characters of ultra confidence and manipulative brilliance, through to the petrified characters often deeply emotionally troubled, due to the nature of their experiences and life’s reflections. The book contains many frightening, unfortunate, and true messages, told with imaginative twists and turns.
We often read fictional thrillers in the pursuit and desire for escapism for ourselves however; by the time the reader is introduced to each character and personal story, you will find yourself egging on the vulnerable to succeed in their desire to escape and seek a better life.
Money being the root of all evils, the irony is that the evil incarcerators and those incarcerated is their need to fulfil one common desire – earn money. The author captures this forcefully when using Deng Xiao Ping’s quote, ‘Getting Rich is Glorious’. Glorious for those who have it, and glorious for those who may get it, due to the dreadful life they would escape.
Each personal story in the book is absorbing and testimony to the author’s knowledge of the subject matter and intelligent writing. Each person, like all immigrants believe “The Land of Hope” in Europe, Japan or the USA will be the answer to their problems. Too often immigrants only realise that the life they left behind, was in many ways, better then the life they now find themselves exposed to. They can only think pleasant things in their dreams and hold onto the happiness of home in their hearts, not their day to day reality.
The book is absorbing, cleverly written, and fast-paced style throughout with an informative and educational element driven by great characters. The book is powerful in its culmination with an action packed yet, heart tugging ending. It leaves the reader considering this very real world issue and yet, the characters are so credible, you are left wondering if there is an Ah Fang, Madam Lin or even a Dragon in your locality.
One final note, at the outset of the book, the author provides a very useful guide to Chinese names, to assist the reader with a better understanding of how Chinese names compared to Western names. This proves very useful especially for those persons not familiar with the subtle differences.
A highly recommended read.