Want to know what’s really going on with relationships in China today?
It is the Shanghai of courtesans and concubines, danger and decadence, updated to 2020. American expat author Isham Cook has disappeared. His last known history is chronicled by an exotic woman who seems right out of 1930s Shanghai herself, Marguerite, a mustachioed Afghan-American who weaves Persian rugs and deals in psychedelics. As she tells it, Isham’s story all began with Luna, a beguiling but troubled Chinese woman who happens to have a mustache too. Also vying for Isham’s affection is the charismatic Kitty, who conspires to entrap him in a cyberweb of obsession and betrayal.
Fans of Cook’s fiction will recognize in this psychological thriller set in modern China his signature world of startling plot turns and his unsettling yet compelling landscape of ideas.
“Readers who enjoy quirky, erotic mysteries will savor this tale of love, sex, mystery and revenge.”—BookLife Reviews by Publishers Weekly
“The erotic thriller has an ambitious, Faulknerian structure.”—Kirkus Reviews
“I can’t think of any other white-boy author who has re-imagined himself as an Asiatic female in order to psychoanalyze his past relationships, and in that regard Isham Cook has crafted a truly gender-and-genre-bending work of literature.”—Tom Carter, author of An American Bum in China
“If you thought the vice and intrigue of 1930s Shanghai were gone, think again. Isham Cook and Marguerite–mustache and all–revisit the dark secrets of Shanghai’s bygone days in a contemporary, high-tech setting. You’ll never think of Shanghai the same.”—Susan Blumberg-Kason, author of Good Chinese Wife
Goodreads customer reviews:
“The quick and clever dialogue that begins the novel drew my attention immediately. The novel has a unique and intriguing style that begins to build the world before the eyes of the reader from the very beginning. The fascinating characters leave the reader with questions that fuel the need to find out what will happen next.”
“Creating characters of extraordinary interest, Cook makes this novel not only an entertaining read, but also an ‘insider’s look’ at the ‘pleasure market’ of China.”
“This book is more an experience than a book. When I wasn’t reading the book I was thinking about the characters. Then when I was done for days after I kept wanting to go back to that world in Shanghai.”
“Drug-induced and existential journeys to find enlightenment amid a tryst of relationships where the author is on the brink of becoming an Alistair Crowley.”
“Cook uses the novel as a way to psychoanalyze past relationships and gets into the mind of these scorned women very well.”
“With influences from Kafka to Melville and Sade…this is a graphic and edgy read meant to intrigue and pique intellectual curiosity.”
“The author or his avatar is far more volatile and aggressive than in previous books. Is this the outsider’s interpretation of events or the real, internal functioning of Isham?”
“I am still sorting my feelings on this book, to be honest. It’s a lot to take in.”
“I loved this novel.”
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More fiction by Isham Cook: