Ghost Month by Ed Lin
Published July 29, 2014; Soho
Book Beginning:My comments: A suspenseful mystery and a fast read in an atmospheric international setting. I learned a lot about Taipei, Taiwan - its night markets and other tourist areas, the variety of its people, aboriginal and immigrant, and something about its culture, politics, and its relationship with China and Japan.
When I found out the girl I was going to marry had been murdered, I was sitting on a foldout stool at a sidewalk noodle shop in Taipei's Da'an District. My mouth went dry, my eyes blurred and I couldn't stop shaking. It was the hottest day in July, and the island's humidity was draped over me like a mourning veil, yet my body went cold and sweaty. Even my skin was crying. (from proof; final copy may differ)
August is Ghost Month in Taiwan-a time to commemorate the dead: burn incense, visit shrines, commemorate ancestors, and avoid unlucky situations, large purchases, and bodies of water.
Jing-nan, a young man who runs a food stand in a Taipei night market, is shocked to learn his ex-girlfriend from high school has been murdered, found shot on the side of a highway where she was selling betel nuts to passing truck drivers. Jing-nan is confused by the news: "betel nut beauties" are usually women in the most desperate of circumstances.
But Julia Huang had been the valedictorian of their high school, and was enrolled in NYU's honor program, far away in New York. Julia's parents beg Jing-nan to do some investigating. Reluctantly, he agrees, but nothing can prepare him for what he learns, or how it will change his life.
Thanks to Soho for a review ARC of this novel.