‹Chengdu: a teeming, modern metropolis.
Yet China’s painful turbulent history still leaves its mark on the minds of all who live there.
Philip Ye, half English, half Chinese, is a homicide detective with the Chengdu Public Security Bureau who suffers his own anguish from a life blighted by tragedy and the unsettling appearance of ghosts that often intrude in on his investigations.
On a misty grey morning one such apparition leads him to a busy street corner during the rush hour where he bears witness to a shocking event. Against his better judgment, Phillip is drawn into the search for a missing, vulnerable boy. His investigation brings him into contact with Xu Ya, a brilliant and beautiful public prosecutor. She is new to Chengdu, determined not only to make her mark but to also leave behind her own personal heartbreak. They have crossed paths before. He has no memory of her, but she remembers him very well indeed….
Soon enough Philip Ye has a vicious murder on his hands, and then another – the boy’s disappearance seemingly sparking a chain of violent events. With the help of Xu Ya – dedicated to upholding făzhì, the Rule of Law, in China ‒ and her indefatigable and worldly-wise assistant Fatty Deng, Phillip Ye is quickly on the trail of a mysterious figure known as The Willow Woman. But, unbeknownst to them all, there are secretive and subversive forces at work within the dark heart of the city and tremendous danger awaits
Thank you to Laurence Westwood for my gifted review copy of 'The Willow Woman' in exchange for my unbiased review.
Firstly I have to point out that just looking at this book, is a stunning thing, the cover design and just about everything drew me in to this deep rich story.
From page 1, I was given a sense this wasnt going to be a fast read, Standing at 440 pages, the book may not seem huge in length, but the pages are dense and thick, laden with Laurence Westwood's stunning words.
This breathtaking story, adventure and crime thriller, firmly takes its reader, deeply and profoundly into the world of Homicide Detective Philip Ye, and modern China, and all its rich and intricate laws, myths and traditions.
Philip Ye, is half English, half chinese, and comes from what is almost the royal family equivalent in Chengdu, China, his family history so deeply rooted into the city itself, he is almost famous, and revered by colleagues and citizens alike, but he carries some darkness with him, and leads, at times a much haunted existence.
When Philip is drawn into the search for a missing boy, little does he know what he is about to step into, a story full of murder, and corruption, conspiracy and a cult, with a sinister feel, Ye is dragged into the investigation alongside prosecutor Xu Ya, a brilliant young mind, hungry for justice, though troubled herself, and Fatty Deng, her indomitable assistant, and the veritable dog with a bone and a man with a point to prove. And last but by no means least, the misunderstood but wondeful creation that is the giant of a woman, Constable Ma.
Already in this review I have used the words, deep, rich and profound. This book is all of these and all the superlatives and more.
This is not your common crime thriller, it's a story of so much more, of human nature, of unexpected alliances and friendships, and also it is an absolute cracker of a crime tale.
Each character is written with such depth, that even though Ye is the protagonist, I found myself just as involved in Fatty Deng or Constable Ma, as each of them have their own history and story to tell, Laurence Westwood could have 3 or 4 characters strong enough to carry their own series.
As is clear to see, I was blown away with this book , and I truly hope Laurence Westwood is currently penning a Philip Ye 2.
I have several book of the year candidates, im pretty sure I wont be able to bring it down to 1, but The Willow Woman is definitely going to be amongst the favourites.
Resplendent, Elegant, Compelling, Superb.
My Highest of Recommendations