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The Devil of Nanking


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About the Author

Mo Hayder has worked as a barmaid, security guard, filmmaker, hostess in a Tokyo nightclub, and teacher of English as a foreign language. She is the author of The Birdman and The Treatment.


From its start in 1937, as the Japanese overrun the Chinese port of Nanking and massacre hundreds of thousands, to its narrative core in 1990, as a disturbed young British woman who calls herself Grey searches for the hidden truths that made her the mentally fragile person she is, Hayder's third book (after 2002's The Treatment) is a thriller of rare art and gripping excitement. Hayder, one of the rising stars of British crime fiction, teaches at a university in Bath and has worked as a hostess in a Tokyo nightclub. Both experiences add to her book's unusually rich atmosphere. Grey, who lives on the fringes of the academic world, tries to find out in Tokyo whether a piece of 16mm film taken during the Nanking atrocities actually exists-and whether it will ease her pain. When an elderly Chinese professor, a survivor of Nanking, at first refuses to help her, she drifts into a well-paying job as a night club hostess. (Russian twin sisters Irina and Svetlana teach her the tricks of the trade. "You gotta look sophisticated," Svetlana tells her earnestly. "You wanna wear my belt, eh? My belt is gold. Black and gold nice!") Eventually, the story becomes a beautifully paced, three-way duel among an aged Japanese gangster who wants to live forever; the Chinese professor, with secrets too horrible to hide any longer; and Grey, a courageous young woman unlike any other heroine you're likely to find in a thriller. Agent, Kim Witherspoon. (Apr. 30) Forecast: Advance praise from Tess Gerritsen, Harlan Coben, Minette Walters and Val McDermid will alert their fans to this novel's high quality. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Although Hayder departs from her popular series featuring DI Jack Caffery tracking down serial killers (Birdman), her latest novel-first published in Great Britain under the title Tokyo-is another powerfully written, haunting thriller. Grey Hutchins, a young Englishwoman who had been the victim of a traumatic rape and institutionalization, becomes obsessed with the atrocities committed by the Japanese in Nanking in 1937. Traveling to Tokyo, she tracks down an elderly Chinese scholar who survived the massacre and who may have a film of the event. Grey tries to gain his trust; rebuffed, she takes a job as a hostess and meets a powerful gangster, an old man in a wheelchair rumored to use a strange elixir to maintain his health. Flashing back and forth between Grey's present-day quest (as recorded in her journal) to the Japanese invasion of Nanking (as recorded in the survivor's diary), Hayder's novel moves beyond the mystery and suspense angles into larger issues of history, memory, and power. Although horrific events are described, this work is not forensically gory like Hayder's Caffery series. Recommended for most fiction collections.-Beth Lindsay, Washington State Univ. Libs., Pullman Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Dazzling... extremely creepy book... the diabolically gifted British author spins a fascinating mystery from the legacy of Japanese atrocities during World War II (A)." -- Entertainment Weekly "A haunting, lyrical, disturbing, important, suspenseful, wonderfully written and beautiful book." -- Harlan Coben "The Devil of Nanking is such a perfectly sinister novel that doubt creeps in as one reads it. Can Mo Hayder pull it off? [She] creates such a threatening environment that when the novel gains its strength, every page evokes a shudder. And yes, she pulls it off. The Devil of Nanking ends as it begins - which is to say it's a thoroughly satisfying thriller." -- New York Daily News "The Devil of Nanking is the kind of novel that invites excessive praise. It is beautifully written and often fascinating, and it has a powerful historical hook." -- Washington Post "There are some novels that infect the brain and never let go... Hayder writes of past and present horrors with beautifully understated prose, made more so by Grey's innocence in the face of mounting evil. The Devil of Nanking is brilliant, haunting and scary as hell - a book not soon forgotten." -- Baltimore Sun

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