Book Review: The Willow Woman (Philip Ye, #1) by Laurence Westwood

Goodreads Book Synopsis:

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…. 

My review


This isn’t my usual genre but when I read the cover and synopsis I knew The Willow Woman would be for me. I was lucky to win a copy, (this in no way influences my review – all opinions are my own,) and I wasn’t disappointed.

What a great novel. The Willow Woman is well written, engaging, and thoroughly researched too. There are masses of characters in the novel, but don’t let this put you off. The author kindly gives us a detailed list, so we don’t get confused who is who!

Within the cover of this book you’ll find: touches of the paranormal and the mystical, police procedural, China’s historical past and the frailties of what it means to be human and vulnerable set amongst the cliques, violence, cults and mysteries of China.

There are many characters in this tale to keep the reader entertained. Laurence Westwood introduces them with care and such detail that the reader is immersed in this world.

My personal favourites are Fatty Deng, Constable Ma, Mouse, the main protagonist Philip Ye and the Prosecutor Xu Ya.

In fact, I wish we had more of Fatty Deng…

Moreover, there are the lovely touches of spontaneous humour that bring a smile from time to time.

The ending what can I say – read it and see! 

I look forward to reading more from this author.

My recommendation: Highly recommended.

My rating: 4.5 stars

Authors Website: https://www.laurencewestwood.com/

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Haiku Horizons: Monkey

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In honour of the Chinese Zodiac Year of the Monkey I thought I’d join in Haiku Horizon’s prompt which happens to be Monkey.

https://haikuhorizons.wordpress.com/2016/02/14/haiku-horizons-prompt-monkey/

I watched a very interesting TV programme last night, Chinese New Year The Biggest Celebration on Earth. I hope to complete a children’s book about Chinese New Year so I was drawn to watching this.  It featured the Snub Nosed Monkey, such a charming fellow. These monkeys are an endangered species. They have been hunted to near extinction. That is beyond horrible…….  but the good news is there is a rescue operation in hand. A dedicated man  looks after these charming fellows and collects their nuggets of poo so it can be analysed to check their health. That must be quite a job, plastic gloves are a prerequisite, but he takes it very seriously. In fact he is so skilled that he can glance at each sample of poo and tell exactly which monkey produced it! Quite an unusual skill.. He must love those monkeys..

Do find out more about the snub-nosed monkey, he seems to be a delightful monkey full of character:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_snub-nosed_monkey

More than one billion people travel from the cities to the countryside at Chinese New Year to be reunited with their families at this all important time. Can you imagine? That is a huge migration of folk, involving all manner of transport: plane, car, motorbike, and police car….  The Hairy Bikers couldn’t rev up in their usual style in China without the necessary documentation so they ended up travelling in the back of a police car!  These Hairy fellows learnt how to make Congee, a warming porridge made of pork, rice, and spring onions, served at the roadside to travellers returning to see their families at Chinese New Year.

This programme continued to fascinate me with its commentary on the Ice City, a massive winter wonderland carved out of massive slabs of ice in Harbin, the largest city of Heilongjiang province, in China.  It is so cold in this province of China that the elderly locals are acclimitised to the extreme cold. These hardy pensioners dive into a swimming pool to engage in a spot of …… ice swimming! The thought just sends me into an extreme shiver ……

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harbin

My haiku:

The snub nosed monkey,

Forest high flier, cool dude.

Keep him protected.

 

Hope all you Monkeys out there are having a very Happy and Prosperous New Year. I’m a rabbit in the Chinese zodiac…. I like to hop about and put my feet up with a good book. What about you?

 

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx