One of my favorite novels of 2010 was Rock Paper Tiger by Lisa Brackmann.
I bit every one of my fingernails to the quick while reading Brackmann’s book–it was just that good and that compelling.
And now she’s back for another go with Hour of the Rat, coming June 18 from Soho.
Iraq War vet Ellie McEnroe has a pretty good life in Beijing, representing the work of controversial dissident Chinese artist Zhang Jianli. Even though Zhang’s mysterious disappearance of over a year ago has her in the sights of the Chinese authorities. Even though her Born-Again mother has come for a visit and shows no signs of leaving. But when her mom takes up with “that nice Mr. Zhou next door,” Ellie decides that it’s time to get out of town—given her mother’s past bad choices of men, no good can come of this.
An old Army buddy, Dog Turner, gives her the perfect excuse. His unstable brother Jason has disappeared in picturesque Yangshuo, a famous tourist destination, and though Ellie knows it’s a long shot, she agrees to try to find him. At worst, she figures she’ll have a few days of fun in some gorgeous scenery.
But her plans for a relaxing vacation are immediately complicated when her mother and the new boyfriend tag along. And as soon as she starts asking questions about the missing Jason, Ellie realizes that she’s stumbled into a dangerous conspiracy that may or may not involve a sinister biotech company, eco-terrorists, an art-obsessed Chinese billionaire and lots of cats—one that will take her on a wild chase through some of China’s most beautiful—and most surreal—places.
Lisa Brackmann has worked as an executive at a major motion picture studio, an issues researcher in a presidential campaign, and
was the singer/songwriter/bassist in an LA rock band. Yes, she will do karaoke, and she’s looking to buy a bass ukulele. Her debut novel, ROCK PAPER TIGER, set on the fringes of the Chinese art world, made several “Best of 2010″ lists, including Amazon’s Top 100 Novels and Top 10 Mystery/Thrillers, and was nominated for the Strand Magazine Critics Award for Best First Novel. Her second novel, GETAWAY, won the Los Angeles Book Festival Grand Prize and was nominated for the T. Jefferson Parker SCIBA award.
Hour of the Rat is clever and taut and every bit as good as Rock Paper Tiger. I love how flawed Brackmann’s protagonist is. Her imperfections make Ellie real and relatable. It is that authenticity together with an atmospheric setting and a spectacular plot that make Hour of the Rat such a stimulating and fascinating read.
Check back next week for my interview with Lisa Brackmann. Yes, there will be a third book in the series!