Friday, December 12, 2008

Snakehead-Peter May

Peter May
Poisoned Pen, Feb 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 1590586069

American pathologist Margaret Campbell left behind her beloved Li Yan in Beijing to come home to Texas where she has become Chief Medical Examiner of Harris County; she never expected to see him again. However, the former Beijing police detective has been reassigned to work at the Chinese embassy in Washington though he has no plans to look up the woman who left him.

When he is sent to work with American authorities investigating the deaths of Chinese citizens in Walker County in Southern Texas, Li and Margaret, on loan to the nearby county, are stunned as both are involved in the inquiry into the suffocation deaths inside a truck’s sealed refrigeration unit. As they work together, the attraction remains hotter than the sun, but both knows first they must uncover the Snakehead mastermind behind human smuggling. However, the autopsy reveals they did not die from suffocation, they were injected with a form of the Spanish flu virus which killed millions in 1918 and potentially threatens pandemic billions worldwide now that an offshoot has returned.

The fourth Campbell-Yan police procedural (see THE FOURTH SACRIFICE, FIREMAKER and THE KILLING ROOM) switches the location from China to Texas, but maintains the high quality as Li though several thousand miles from his Communist home still must be cognizant of the rulers. The story line focuses on a real threat based on a plausible biological premise of using the deadly 1918 Spanish flu virus to cause a pandemic. Adding to the feel of this could happen is the dead illegal immigrants, another timely topic in spite of seemingly falling off the map when Tancredo’s; run ended. .Whether it is France (home of the Macleod investigative thrillers (see EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE, THE CRITIC and BLACKLIGHT BLUE), China or the United States, Peter May always provides readers with an excellent mystery.

Harriet Klausner