Random House Paperback, $14.95, 333 pages, ISBN 978-0-8129-7868-1
Who says there’s no such thing as magic? Of course there’s magic in the world, and to prove it, this week, through the magic of literature and books, the MBR will take us from Africa to China, just by finishing one book, and beginning another. Poof! like magic, we’re instantly transported from one world to another of a wholly different kind, where we’ll be introduced to new cultures, customs and peoples in the blink of an eye and a finger’s-touch. If that’s not magic, please, tell me what is. And so, without smoke and mirrors, arcane words or prestidigitation . . . here’s MBR Number 26, Flower Net, by Lisa See. Many of you may already be familiar with Lisa See, the author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, a best seller, read by many book clubs. Before that however, she debuted with a wonderful mystery entitled Flower Net, the subject of our Mysterious Book Report this week, and it’s a dandy. The novel begins with the discovery of a body, frozen in the ice of a popular skating lake in Beijing, China. A few days later a second body is discovered aboard a foundering merchant ship off the coast of California. The vessel is filled with illegal Chinese immigrants and abandoned by the crew. The bodies, one Chinese and one American, have been murdered in a gruesome . . . and mysterious way that draws the attention of assistant U.S. attorney David Stark in California and Lin Hulan, a detective with the Ministry of Public Security, or MPS, in Beijing. When the victims are identified as the son of the U.S. Ambassador to China, and the son of a dragon, a Chinese man of formidable wealth and power, the governments of both countries agree to investigate co-operatively . . . thus setting the stage for the two unlikely allies to be drawn deeper into a plot that takes a new twist on almost every page. If you’re a fan of mystery novels, this one’s sure to appeal to you. Have fun, it’s a perfect book for those long, cold and wintry nights.