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Today's group all have Asian settings. The unfamiliar names may take getting used to, but the complex plots and mysteries don't require translation.

 

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<em>Apricot's Revenge</em><strong> by Song Ying, is a nice mix of police procedural with an amateur sleuth who arrives in the form of investigative reporter Nie Feng, who owns a poodle names Yahoo. 

 

But that's where the levity ends. When a real estate magnate is found dead on a beach, it's assumed he suffered a heart attack while swimming. It's only when murder becomes clear that three main suspects rise to the police's attention--until one of those three is found with a desk drawerful of death threats that accompany his body.

 

It will take the steady diligence of the young reporter who had just interviewed the first victim a few days before his death to unearth a new suspect, one with a motive that centers around revenge and a tragic historical event. Sing is an award-winning author is China in fiction and nonfiction. 

 

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Singapore comes alive under the pen of playwright Ovidia Yu and her Aunty Lee series. This time it's <em>Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge</em></strong> that brings a hearty does of Singapore culture and foods along with its humor. The queen of cozy sleuth and chef at Aunty Lee's Delights agrees to be sidelined to take it easy after she sprains an ankle. 

 

Her partner Cherril and stepdaughter-in-law Selina take over the running of the cafe. But readers who know Aunty Lee know she just can't keep herself from snooping when a person from the past is found dead in her hotel room: a woman they call the "puppy killer," with good reason.

 

The dead woman's return to the area was to file a lawsuit against Cherril and two other Animal ReHomers, claiming they had caused her husband to divorce her.

 

Inspt. Salim Mawar and his team reappear in the investigation. After the past cases they've worked on, the Inspector is aware not only of Aunty Lee's cooking delights but her sleuthing skills. With the dead woman's sister causing hysterics, it's enough to make Aunty Lee pop into the kitchen for a new batch of cookies. And yes, there are recipes.

Travel to Japan for the first American translation in what is a long-inning series there. <em>The Silent Dead </em><strong> is the first in Tetsuya Honda's hit series, already made into television series and movies. Heiko Himekawa is the young police detective in Tokyo who constantly must prove herself to her colleagues and superiors. 

 

This complex mystery starts with a body being discovered in bushes in a quiet Tokyo suburb. Wrapped in a blue tarp, tied with twine, the victim has been murdered in such a bizarre way that Reiko immediately thinks this is the signature of a serial killer.

 

Once she hits on this thought, Reiko must prove it, and prove it she does, as the bodies start to pile up, some unrecognizable by now. The ones that are identified seem to have no known connection to each other--until a website that calls itself "Strawberry Night" comes to their attention, and everything the police team think they know will change.

 

A look at the world of Japanese culture and their policing system, with Reiko an intriguing character whose backstory provides a link to her nature for detecting. 

 

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Two Navy vets writing as Alex Ryan have drawn from their experiences and combined taut action to produce the new thriller <strong>Beijing Red</strong><em>. 

 

Nick Foley is an ex-Navy SEAL, working in China on a water irrigation system for his own purposes when he becomes engaged in a conspiracy of the highest order. A bio-terrorism outbreak in western China somehow points to Nick as the leader behind this and he's suddenly on the run to clear his name.

 

The Chinese CDC, nanobots, China's elite Snow Leopard counter-terroism until all come into play, as does the microbiologist Dr. Dazhong Chen. Suddenly Nick realizes he has a purpose and an ally. 

 

Action-packed in a race against time, the duo must find the real perpetrators while convincing the Snow Leopard chiefs that Nick is not trying to bring the Chinese population down. First in a series, with <em>Hong Kong Black</em>--and the lovely Dash--to follow. One to watch for action fans.

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Elsa Hart's debut last year, now in paperback, <em>Jade Dragon Mountain</em></strong>, introduced readers to the complex world of southwest China of 1708. Vintage China's popularity as a setting is evident with recent titles like <em>The Secret Language of Women</em> by Nina Romano, set during The Boxer Rebellion, each conveying the same level of diligent research combined with elegant lyrical language and customs of their era. 

 

Hart's story in what is really an historical murder mystery has an exiled nomadic librarian as its sleuth. Li Du travels to Dayan, near Tibet, to stay with his magistrate cousin in preparation for the emperor's visit during an expected eclipse. That's when a Jesuit astronomer is found dead and Li Du must help his cousin by finding the real murderer. With real insight into the era, 18th century China comes alive under Hart's literary turn.

 

Hart's new release, <em>The White Mirror</em><strong>,finds Li Du traveling to Lhasa, joining up with a tea caravan on their way. A sudden sleet storm takes them all by surprise, and when they stop their horses, Li Du sees a Tibetan monk sitting perfectly still beside a stream on a bridge leading to the only shelter in the area. 

 

On closer inspection, the meditating monk is revealed to be murdered, stabbed to death. A white mirror has been painted on the front of his robe, Li Du's first clue.

 

With the sleet turning to snow, the group take their shelter at the home of the wealthy Doso and his assorted team of characters and family staying there. This is a mixed group and one that is finely drawn, as is the setting.

 

What starts out as a group stranded in a snowstorm, and the death of one lama, soon turns into a full-fledged murder investigation. There are several characters with strong motives who might want the death of the lama. Despite the remote setting, the murder is soon linked to reasons that has far-reaching implications. 

 

With an ally in Hamza, the storyteller, to keep the company engaged so Li Du can slip away to conduct his investigations, the mystery soon is unravelled. This is a mystery where the reader knows everything Li Du does, so it's fair play. The question is if the reader can put the clues together the way they need to be to figure out the identity of the killer. 

 

 

 

     

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