Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Fan Tan Players

The Fan Tan Players by Julian Lees

Not sure where I heard about this book but I liked the sound of a story set in Macao in the 1920s so bought it for Kindle.

It starts off in Macao in 1928, following Russian refugee Nadia who lives with her mother and uncle who runs a tobacconist shop. She meets Scotsman Iain Sutherland, who's working for the British Consulate trying to stop smuggling. He's interested in her, though is it to get information on Chinese gangsters or for her own sake? Nadia's father was lost in Russia during the revolution, but it is not known whether he is alive or dead. To win Nadia's heart, Iain goes to Russia to try to find him and bring him back. And then they marry and go to Scotland, and then war breaks out (1939) and Iain is put in a Hong Kong internment camp, from which Nadia must rescue him.

Does this synopsis sound muddled? That's because the plot is, too. There's an awful lot of plot in this book. I started off thinking it was an interesting historical novel, with that unusual and enigmatic setting of Macao. Then it becomes a thriller, then an adventure-quest, or is it a love story, then it's a war story.

It's not a bad book - there are some lovely descriptions in it, some beautiful prose. I found myself reading some lines twice because I loved them so much. But the plot twists and turns had me frowning. The author could have stretched this out into about 4 different books if he'd wanted to. In the end, I just wasn't sure about this book. I can't say it's not my genre, because there are so many genres represented in it!

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