Saturday, August 16, 2008

Everything Under the Sky-Matilde Asensi

Everything Under the Sky
Matilde Asensi
Harper, Aug 12 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 9780061458415

Spanish artist Elvira De Poulain is notified that her husband Remy was murdered by the Green Gang assassins in China. Stunned but not shocked as her late debauched spouse seemed to get into trouble all the time, she leaves accompanied by her orphaned niece Fernanda from Paris for Shanghai to bring his body home for burial.

In Shanghai, Elvira feels out of place and looks forward to returning to the comfort of Europe. However, she quickly realizes she has major issues to deal with as her self-indulgent husband ran up unbelievable debts due to his vices of gambling, hookers, and opium. She learns he was killed because he owned a priceless box that allegedly contains clues to the burial location of China's First Emperor and his treasure; others demanded he hand over his find, but he refused and died for his stubbornness. Elvira considers seeking the booty and soon finds allies: fiftyish pot bellied Irish journalist Patrick Tichborne, a white bearded Celestial local antiquarian Mr. Jiang and an orphaned young servant Biao.

This is an entertaining 1920s saga that fans will enjoy as the no nonsense European and her niece slowly acclimate to China while seeking the tomb and dodging killers. The story line is driven the by the quintet who consists of the artist, two youths and two older men; whereas their adversaries are professional assassins. EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN is an entertaining tale as the audience wonders whether Elvira will survive her physical ordeal and solve the complex clues, get killed, or flee back to France.

Harriet Klausner